A place on the start line of the Boston Marathon is a much coveted honor. Eighty percent of entrants have to run qualifying times to earn their bib and the remaining 20 percent are charity runners with fierce competition and high sponsorship minimums for places. It was therefore with overwhelming excitement and gratitude that I accepted my place to join Team 261 Fearless in Boston.
The 121st Boston Marathon was set to be an historic event because running legend Kathrine Switzer was taking part. Fifty years ago, in 1967, Kathrine had decided to prove her athletics coach wrong. He had told her, “No dame ever ran no marathon.” Together they checked the rulebook and found no mention of gender. Signing her name KV Switzer (as she always did) on the entry form, she was issued bib 261. A couple of miles into the race, the press truck drove past and one of the officials, Jock Semple, spotted a woman running. He felt she had cheated to get a place and charged towards her, grabbing at her bib shouting, “get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers.” She was terrified. A further swipe at her back saw the race official swiftly and unceremoniously ejected from the course by a body block from Kathrine’s boyfriend.