We had never read about Kathrine Switzer, but then we saw this astonishing picture cross our social streams:
Kathrine Switzer of Syracuse found herself about to be thrown out of the normally all-male Boston Marathon when a husky companion, Thomas Miller of Syracuse, threw a block that tossed a race official out of the running instead.
That's Switzer, of Syracuse, being pushed off the Boston Marathon course by Jock Semple, one of the race organizers. The year was 1967 and as Switzer tells it, Semple jumped off the media truck and began yelling at her.
"Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers," she says he told her.
The reason the picture seems to be making the rounds is that when the 116th Boston Marathon gets underway in two weeks, the Boston Athletic Association will mark four decades since women were allowed to run the world's oldest annual marathon.
Switzer entered the race five years before that day. She entered using the name K.V. Switzer and wiggled out of the required physical by saying she had been cleared earlier.
Here's a video from PBS' Women Who Make America series in which Switzer talks about that day:
Switzer says her boyfriend at the time threw a body block to stop Semple. After Semple was off the course and the media truck had moved on, Switzer said it went quiet, a light snow falling.
She broke the silence saying, "I'm going to finish this race on my hands and knees if I have to, because nobody believes that I can do this."
Switzer finished in 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Semple died in 1988. In a story from 1968, Semple was unrepentant.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
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