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The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon on How She’s Silenced Critics over the Years

Fifty years ago, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to officially finish the Boston Marathon. At the time, in 19667, Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) rules stated women were not allowed to run more than 1.5 miles competitively because they supposedly couldn’t handle the strain of longer distances. But at the time, Kathrine had no idea she was breaking the rules. Her penchant for using her initials rather than her full name allowed her to sign up for the race without a fuss, and the cold weather on race day initially made her virtually indistinguishable from the male runners. But then, at the two-mile mark, race official Jock Semple realized what was going on. Infuriated, he attacked her, trying to rip the bib, marked with #261, from her chest. Kathrine’s boyfriend, who was running alongside, shouldered the official out of the way, propelling Switzer into the spotlight as an icon for women’s rights in athletics.

women’s health April 2017