Kathrine Switzer did more than just become the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon back in 1967. In the process she dragged the male power brokers who controlled the event kicking and screaming into the 20th century. And she showed women around the world what they were capable of. Not bad for a then 27-year-old visionary who has been speaking up for women ever since.
After entering her initials K.V. to officially register for Boston, the women’s running movement would be forever changed. Despite Race Director Jock Semple’s attempt to physically remove her from the course, she crossed the finish line in the 26.2 mile race, shattering the gender barrier in the process. Later, she would help establish the inaugural women’s marathon at the 1984 LA Olympics.
Who are the new women runners today? I asked. “Fortunately right now there is a new generation of 40- to 60-year-olds who discovered running at a later age,” said Switzer. “This group has no sense of running history. They are fresh faced, with no baggage of ‘Am I too fat, not fast enough’? They run for the joy of running and a feeling of empowerment—a sense of self pride.”Fast forward to today, there are more women participating in what is now a global running movement. In a phone interview from Switzer’s home in Wellington, New Zealand, the energetic 68-year-old legend talked about the changes in competitive running since she started and shared some tips for running long term.