1st woman to run Boston Marathon inspires young MN runners

- Maybe you’ve seen that iconic photo of runner #261 being shoved by an angry official at the Boston Marathon back in 1967. The official wants her out of the race simply because she is a woman – the first woman to officially register and run the Boston Marathon.

In 1967, the Boston Marathon was a man’s race. A woman had never officially registered to run and cross the finish line.  Kathrine Switzer was about to change all of that as her coach encouraged her to sign up.

“We read the rule book, there was nothing about gender, “Switzer said. 

The male runners were welcoming, but race officials were not.  Just two miles into the race, a truck carrying a race official came by and the official jumped off the truck, coming after Switzer. 

She says he told her she was a girl and wasn’t allowed in a men-only race.  Kathrine Switzer’s boyfriend pushed him out of the way and she kept on running.  From that point forward, #261 felt compelled to stand up and help empower women. 

“I was radicalized by the experience to go on and create opportunities for women in the sport,” Switzer said. “The second thing is, is that official provided the world one of the most galvanizing photos in the history of the women’s rights movement.”

“I’ve been able to compete in the Olympic Games because of what she’s done,” Minnesota Olympian Carrie Tollefson said.

49 years later – Switzer is still sharing her story and her “can do “message with young girls everywhere, including with the members of the Twin Cities chapter of Girls on the Run at an event Tuesday.

“If little girls can be empowered they can grow up to be self-esteemed women who can change the world,” Switzer said.


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