First woman to complete Boston Marathon does it again at age 70

Boston Marathon Kathrine Switzer
Image: YouTube/Bow Tie Entertainment

Image: Youtube/Bow Tie Entertainment

If there’s one woman to inspire us to stay fit and active into retirement, it’s Kathrine Switzer.

Not only was she the first woman to ever complete the Boston Marathon in 1967, during a time when women were not permitted to compete, but 50 years on and the 70-year-old has done it again

On Monday, Switzer crossed the Boston Marathon finish line with the same bib number she wore during her first history-making race.

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… 50 years ago today, Katherine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a registered number (Bobbi Gibb ran unregistered the year before becoming the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon). She registered under her initials as "KV Switzer". During the marathon Jock Semple, the marathon director, tried to physically remove her from the race. This pic shows when he ran up to her and was attempting to rip her bib from the back of her sweatshirt while screaming at her to get out of "his race". Her running coach (older guy in white shorts) is yelling to leave her alone while her boyfriend (young guy in dark shorts) gave ol' Jock a shoulder check that had him literally flying into the dirt. Switzer finished the marathon proving (publicly) women weren't "too fragile" to run. The pics of this altercation went global. It wasn't until 5 years later that women were allowed to officially run in the Boston Marathon. Today the marathon officials have retired her bib number, 261, in her honor. Way to go, Katherine. 🏃‍♀️🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏼‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️🏃🏾‍♀️🏃🏿‍♀️#katherineswitzer #runlikeagirl #bostonmarathon #yay #shejustwantedtorun

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“What happened on the streets of Boston 50 years ago completely changed my life and changed other people’s lives,” she recalled during a phone interview after the race.

“The race today was a celebration of the past 50 years; the next 50 are going to be even better.”

Just a few kilometres into the 1967 42km race, Switzer, who was just 20 years old at the time, was followed by the race’s co-director, Jock Semple, who quite literally attempted to push her out of the competition.

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“What happened to me was a radicalising experience. And it was one that made me bound and determined to change things for women,” she told the Boston Globe

“Running had given me everything, and I wanted other women to feel that as well.”

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Now, decades on, running has become not only a popular hobby, but a great excuse for a holiday, too.

There are running city tours around the world and travellers are even willing to plan their travels around different running events around the world, calling them runcations.

The number of Australians enjoying jogging and running for sport or recreation has doubled between 2005 and 2012.

“We found that nearly eight per cent of Australians 15 years old or over participated in running or jogging in the last 12 months, up from just over four per cent in 2005–06,” says the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

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And to think that Switzer had been told that “fragile women” wouldn’t be able to compete in the long race! Thank goodness she pursued it and turned her running dream a reality for all women.

“I was serious about my running and I could not let fear stop me,” she said.

Do you plan your vacations around running events? Let us know all about it in the comments section below.

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