MAKERS Profile

Kathrine Switzer

First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon

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 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. 

More From Kathrine

A Pink Running Skirt
Kathrine Switzer talks about where she differed from the women's movement and happily embraced her feminine side.

I'd Like a Wife Too
Kathrine Switzer describes the day she understood men's real leg-up in the workplace: their stay-at-home wives.

She's One of Mine
Kathrine Switzer talks about her legacy.

The Streets of Rio
Kathrine Switzer talks about the yearning for more athletic opportunities extends to women in all countries, despite what their men say.

The Olympic Games
Kathrine Switzer talks about leading the charge to get the women's marathon into the Olympics for a very simple reason.

The Guys
Kathrine Switzer talks about the welcoming reception she generally experienced from men in the marathon world.

Excommunicated
Kathrine Switzer may have escaped an angry Jock Semple, but the Amateur Athletic Union imposed swift sanctions for her unladylike actions.

The Presence of Mind
Kathrine Switzer talks about handling an aggressive pack of reporters after the race.

A Wee Bit of Notoriety
Kathrine Switzer talks about race official Jock Semple's surprising change of heart.

The Light Went On
Kathrine Switzer recalls her epiphany during her historic Boston Marathon run that set the course for her life's work.

Some Kind of Deviant
Kathrine Switzer talks about how her jogs would panic the milkman.

They're Expecting a Behemoth
Kathrine Switzer talks about the fun of defying stereotypes as a feminine athlete.