I've decided to start some "Special Edition" posts in 21K for Change and Inspirational Runners is one of them. This first post is dedicated to Kathrine Switzer. My friend, Barbara, posted that photo on my facebook wall and this idea to showcase phenomenal runners stemmed from there.
Kathrine Switzer is the first woman to run the previously male-only Boston Marathon. In 1967, as she run down the marathon course, Switzer was physically attacked by the race director for wearing official bib numbers in the race. In 1972, after 5 years of advocating by women to be eligible to run the race along side the men, the Boston Athletic Association officially allowed women to enter the race. Jock Semple, the man who had attacked Switzer just 5 years earlier, was allowing women to run the Boston Marathon, but only if they could meet the men's qualifying time of 3 hours 30 minutes. Seven women ran the Boston Marathon in 1972 and the rest is history. In 2012, more than 10,000 women ran the Boston Marathon.
Switzer was the women's winner of the New York Marathon in 1974 and achieved her personal best time of 2:51:37 in the Boston Marathon of 1975. (Seriously?! A full marathon - 42K in 2:51:37?! I hope to finish 21K in that amount of time!)
At the age of 63, after a three-decade rest from long distance running, Switzer ran the Motatapu Icebreaker, an off-road marathon in New Zealand in 2010.
Switzer works as a television broadcaster and has covered all of the major marathons in North America as well as the Olympic and Commonwealth Games. She won her first of several Emmy awards in 1997. Switzer is also a best-selling author and renowned public speaker. Her memoir, Marathon Woman won the 2008 Billie Award for journalism.
I'm going to leave you lovely readers with words of wisdom from Katherine Switzer, words that I plan to add to my list of things to remember while running when I feel like I am going to die: "It's about women who can endure the distance with belief and bravery, and every day are empowered by their efforts."