HOW KATHRINE SWITZER’S HISTORY-MAKING MOVE IN 1967 LED TO A CAREER ADVOCATING FOR WOMEN IN SPORTS.
When Kathrine “K.V.” Switzer took her place at the starting line of the 1967 Boston Marathon, wearing a bulky, grey sweat suit and lipstick, she was about to make history. No woman had ever officially entered and run the venerable race before, although she had heard that a woman ran it the previous year without a bib number. Switzer had been training hard with her coach, Arnie Briggs, at a time when it was widely believed that women simply didn’t have the physical capability of running the 26.2 miles that make up a marathon.
Switzer, then a sophomore at Syracuse University, was determined to prove that theory wrong. She was running with Briggs and her boyfriend at the time, Thomas Miller, when race official Jock Semple ran toward her to try to force her to leave the race at roughly the two-mile mark because she was a woman. Briggs yelled for the official to leave Switzer alone, then Miller threw a body block and knocked the official off the course.
“Then, the guys did hover in. Somebody said, ‘You’d better not try that again,’” she recalls.