HOPKINTON – Five decades after running her first Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer still starts to sweat and feel the chills when she makes her way into Hopkinton.
It’s the town where it all began for Switzer – the first woman to run as a registered runner in the race – and, as she notes, for women runners around the world.
“It’s just been an amazing, amazing journey and it all started here,” Switzer said, standing inside Town Hall Friday afternoon, yards away from the Marathon starting line. “In many ways, Hopkinton changed my life.”
Next month’s race marks 50 years since Switzer, then a 20-year-old student at Syracuse University, signed up for the marathon under her “K.V.” initials, donned her “261” race bib and hit the pavement.
She ran in the footsteps of Roberta Gibb, who one year earlier in 1966 was the first woman to run the race unofficially.
About four miles into the 26.2-mile Marathon, Switzer fended off race official, Jock Semple – eager to have her thrown out – to go on to make it to Boston amidst the snow, cold and, yes, controversy.
“There’s a moment in all our lives that’s a defining moment: a moment where you change everything you previously understood, and you suddenly see you have to step up or go home,” she said, reflecting on the now-iconic, 1967 race.
Switzer, now 70, graced the spotlight again Friday as both local and Marathon officials gathered in Hopkinton – which she called the “beautiful little New England town that changed the world” – to honor her contributions to the sport and event.
After a morning speaking to Hopkinton students, Switzer was given a few locally-inspired gifts and declared an honorary citizen by the Board of Selectmen.