The Boston Marathon is undoubtedly one of the well-known marathons and serious runners from all over the world dream to take part in this prestigious event. It is held annually and attracts at least 500,000 spectators and participants. Both amateur and professionals run in this most-sought-after event and this year. This year, the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 crossed the finish line. It was Meb Keflezighi, 38 years old, who finished and won the men’s division with a time of 2:08:37 (which is technically a 2-hour “sprint” for most people).
The Boston Marathon has encountered lots of issues and controversies throughout the years, including the tragic Boston Marathon bombing last year, but did you know that women were not allowed to run in this race until 1967? Women were barred from running the famed Boston Marathon for over 70 years!
History tells us that women were generally excluded from participating in sports, and this included the Boston Marathon. However, a woman named Kathrine Switzer made the first attempt to break the barrier and succeeded. Kathrine was a student from Syracuse University and she was only 20-years old when she registered for the marathon using her initials K.V. Switzer. No one realized that she registered a woman and she was able to officially sign up for the race and was given a race entry number.
During the race, a marathon official realized that a lone woman was running the Boston Marathon among hordes of men. This official tried to stop Kathrine but other runners including Kathrine’s boyfriend helped Kathrine continue running and blocked the official from stopping her. The lone female runner in the 1967 Boston Marathon made headlines around the world and proved that anything can be done in spite of hindrances.
After running the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer engaged in promoting sports participation among girls and women. With the help of other passionate women, the Boston Athletic Association was convinced to drop their discrimination against women and allowed them to participate in the race in 1972.
Because of Kathrine’s dream and perseverance, the Boston Marathon opened its starting line to women, and by 2011, almost 43% of its runners were female! Apart from the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer also helped lead the drive to include women’s marathon in the Olympic Games which was achieved at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
This article originally appeared on http://coachbillygoco.com. The article has been shared with the author’s permission.