Last week, the Boston Marathon occurred. On the day of that marathon, I heard about Kathrine Switzer for the first time. I'm kind of ashamed that it took me 20+ years to learn of Kathrine and what she did for women in the sport of running. Do you know what Kathrine did? Well, keep reading to find out.
This excerpt was taken from the Wikipedia page on Kathrine. And yeah, I know Wikipedia isn't the best source in the universe but this is my personal blog, not college . . .
While attending university, Switzer completed the race in 1967 under entry number 261 with the Syracuse Harriers athletic club, five years before women were officially allowed to compete in it. Her finishing time of approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes was nearly an hour behind the first female finisher, Bobbi Gibb (who ran unregistered). She registered under the gender-neutral "K. V. Switzer", which she says was not done to mislead the officials. She says she had long used "K. V. Switzer" to sign the articles she wrote for her university paper. Switzer was issued a number through an "oversight" in the entry screening process, and was treated as an interloper when the error was discovered. Race official Jock Semple attempted to physically remove her from the race. Switzer claims he shouted, "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers."Switzer's boyfriend Tom Miller, who was running with her, shoved Semple aside and sent him flying, allowing her to proceed. Photographs taken of the incident made world headlines.
This is one photo taken from the race that day . . .
1967 . . . that was not very long ago. And who knows how much longer it would have taken for women to be accepted in the sport of running if it weren't for Kathrine's courageous act. Kathrine went on to keep running marathons, and she still does so much work for women in running.
Kathrine's story especially hit home for me as I just signed up for my first FULL marathon a few weeks ago. I've registered for so many races in the past and never realized how blessed I was to have the ability to do so. I take things for granted; things that people once had to fight for the right to. It's crazy to me that in the past, it was wrong for a woman to want to lace up her running shoes and enter a race.
Running is my medicine. When I've had a bad day or I'm feeling stressed, it's what I do to unwind. It's something I've grown up doing: from racing kids on the playground, to breaking high school track records, to joining USU's track & field team, to now running distances that I didn't think I was capable of running. I can't imagine my life without running in it. Who knows how my life could be different if it weren't for Kathrine. I'm so thankful for women before me who chose to live bravely. Their choices have impacted me in many ways I know I'm not fully aware of.
On the hard days of training leading up to my marathon, when I don't feel like putting one foot in front of the other, I'm going to remind myself of that woman who pinned the number "261" on her sweatsuit and ran with the boys.
On the day of my marathon, when I'm feeling terrified and full of doubt, I'll remind myself to run like a girl. Maybe I'll even put a "261" somewhere on my body to give myself an extra little boost of confidence.