I’ve ran a marathon and I’m not going to lie, it was hard. Like really hard. And I walked the last 8 miles. But it wasn’t hard to sign up for. It wasn’t hard to get to the starting line (well it was a little hard but there were like 45,000 people, and almost half of them were other women). Even the first 18 miles weren’t that hard. People from all over the world came to cheer me and my fellow runners on. It’s crazy to think that less than 50 years ago women weren’t even allowed to run in marathons.
Even though women weren’t allowed to run the Boston Marathon until 1972, our girl Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run it in 1967 due to an “oversight” in the enrollment process. She was called an interloper when the error was discovered and on race day an official tried to physically remove her during the race. With support from her coach, boyfriend and other runners, she was able to finish the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Media outlets reached out to the Boston Athletic Association for comment on her entry and completion of the race. The director replied by saying, “Women can't run in the Marathon because the rules forbid it. Unless we have rules, society will be in chaos. I don't make the rules, but I try to carry them out. We have no space in the Marathon for any unauthorized person, even a man. If that girl were my daughter, I would spank her."
After the race, Kathrine got together with other female runners and petitioned the right for women to run in the Boston Marathon. She also worked with other ladies to start their own races where they were able to use the facts and statistics to petition the Olympic committee to start a women’s marathon event. Due to their efforts, the women’s marathon debuted at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Kathrine went on to win the women’s New York City Marathon in 1974 with a time of 3:07:29 and finished second at Boston in 1975 with a time of 2:51:37.
It just goes to show you that rules, even the ones that seem normal, should be questioned. I hope that the 1972 Boston Athletic Association Director has learned this and that he’s also learned a marathon finisher is not a girl, but a woman, and you cannot spank her. Because she’s too darn fast. And it’s wrong. Like really wrong.