Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Profile

Kathrine Switzer

First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon

More From Kathrine

In this video

Kathrine Switzer on the prejudices women athletes faced, her historic Boston Marathon run, and the doors it opened for other women athletes.

Kathrine 's Biography

Cause of Choice: Women's Sports Foundation
First Paying Job: Public relations at Bristol Mayers
Headline News: Before her barrier-busting run in Boston, she first sparked national headlines by running the mile in a men's track meet in college.
A Mile a Day: She says, learning to run a mile a day is "the thing that changed my life...It translated into everything else I did. I said, 'Well, if I can run a mile a day, I can try out for the poetry club...It gave me a lot of confidence, courage, and belief in myself.'"

Kathrine Switzer was in the habit of signing her college papers “K.V. Switzer” and did so when she registered for the all-male Boston Marathon in 1967. She wasn’t the first woman to run the race, but her presence as an official entrant made her a visible and potent threat to the sports world’s status quo. The simple gesture exploded when an official attacked Switzer on the course, grabbing for her race numbers and screaming and cursing at her before being body blocked by her boyfriend.
 
The incident was broadcasted worldwide and put a shocking face on the hostility to women’s full participation in athletics. Time-Life listed it among its “100 Photographs that Changed the World.” Switzer was radicalized by the incident. Her 38 subsequent marathons (she’s still running them) include a win in New York in 1974. She led the successful drive to get the women’s race into the Olympic Games, has won an Emmy for her TV commentary, and is the author of three books, including her memoir, Marathon Woman. Switzer’s ongoing campaign to help women around the globe empower themselves through the simple act of running made her a 2011 Inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. 

Related Videos

Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard
Congresswoman (D-Hawaii)

Tulsi Gabbard has served as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii’s second congressional district since 2013. She was born in American Samoa but moved to Hawaii at age 2. At 21...

Marin Alsop
Marin Alsop
First Woman Conductor of a Major American Orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Marin Alsop is a lot more than just the first female conductor of a major American orchestra. Alsop is also the Chief Conductor of the Sao ...

Ellie Smeal
Ellie Smeal
Co-Founder & President, Feminist Majority

Eleanor (Ellie) Smeal, is Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Through both organizations...

Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros
Pioneering Latina Writer

Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican-American novelist, poet, and short story writer. Her books include The House on Mango Street, Caramelo, and Woman Hollering Creek. She is the recipient...