Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kathrine Switzer - 40 Years Ago at the Boston Marathon

Kathrine Switzer

Kathrine Switzer is officially launching her autobiography, Marathon Woman, at the Boston Marathon Expo this weekend.

Kathrine Switzer, who had registered as "K. V. Switzer", was the first woman to run with a Boston Marathon number, in 1967. A year earlier, Roberta (Bobbi) Gibb had run the full Marathon, but without a number. Women were not officially allowed to enter the Boston Marathon until 1972.

Jock Semple, the race director, attacked Switzer when he realized she was a woman and tried to force her out of the race. He did so in front of the media bus and the moment was caught on film. The picture was flashed around the world before Switzer had even finished the race and it became a watershed photo in women's sport.

Marathon Woman Review by Cool Running

CBC has a Q&A article online -
Kathrine Switzer - Changing the face of sports

Here are some excerpts that caught my eye:
What were some of the excuses they would make for not allowing women to take part?

"If a woman ran more than a mile and a half, she's going to get big hairy legs, her uterus is going to fall out, she's going to grow a mustache and turn into a guy and never have children. Or we're simply too fragile and something might happen to us - in the long term. That really was a bad one. It was inappropriate to run with men ­ that's so stupid. People had bought into the three thousand years of myth about women's passivity and weakness."

What was your biggest influence?

"It was my parents, because they said I could do anything [....]
He [dad] didn't realize it, but he had given me ­ all through my teen years ­ this enormous sense of self-esteem and accomplishment that this skinny little frizzle-haired bespectacled little girl otherwise wouldn't have had. By the time I got to 19, I didn't buy into any of those myths that I was being handed, because I was disproving them every day running."

Just as Kathrine Switzer didn't buy into the myths of women's abilities, potential, & place in society and disproved them "every day running", so too does Alex dispel the myths about the abilities, potential and place in society of autistics every day he runs. And just as Kathrine found her fellow (all male) runners 40 years ago "had always really welcomed" her, telling her "We're with you all the way", so too has Alex been welcomed into the running community on PEI and cheered on in his endeavors.

Kathrine Switzer's website is here:

No comments: