Wellesley Historical Society

Kathrine Switzer

Friday, April 14, 2017

50 years ago, Kathrine Switzer made Boston Marathon history.

When friends of The Wellesley Historical Society park their chairs along the Boston Marathon route this year, we’re expecting them to appreciate the import of a true milestone: the 50th anniversary of Kathrine Switzer’s historic run in 1967, which shattered the race ban on women participating.

50 years later, Kathrine plans to don a bib and re-create her famous run.

As with so many gender-busting precedents, Kathrine’s run was not sanctioned by the officials in charge. In fact, one of the race officials was so outraged by the sight of a woman running that he tried to physically steer Switzer off the course. Luckily for her – and for history – her partner happened to be running with her and was prepared to intervene.

Check out this famous photo of Kathrine’s boyfriend clearing the way for Kathrine to continue her run towards history by clearing out race official Jock Semple:

That is what we call laying down the hammer!

Prior to Kathrine’s historic run, women were not welcome to run the Boston Marathon. This informal prohibition – an outright ban was never formally codified – was based on a slew of incorrect assumptions. At that time, athletic decisionmakers (who were probably…men?) assumed women were not capable of running that distance. Indeed, at that time the Olympic track race for women at the Olympics was just 800 meters.

Kathrine Switzer made history 50 years ago. Look for her this year – she’s running again.

Go get em, Kathrine – you’re a running part of history!