19 Apr: Marathon Woman

Katherine Switzer became the first woman to officially participate in the Boston Marathon on 19th April, 1967, when, disguised in a hooded sweatshirt and joggers, she ran under a race number she’d registered for without disclosing her first name. 

Her gender was revealed mid-race, prompting a bizarre fracas as co-director Jock Semple, known for his stringent adherence to tradition, attempted to forcibly remove her from the event – a frenzy captured by photographers and splashed across the front and back of the next day’s newspapers, triggering a change in the previously male-only event.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly reveal how Switzer was in fact not *quite* the first woman to run the marathon; unearth a 1980 Boston victory that played into the hands of the anti-women brigade; and consider how Switzer’s stand continues to resonate as a symbol of defiance against gender barriers in sports, decades later… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Kathrine Switzer: 50 years ago women were not allowed to run the marathon’ (ABC, 2017):


• ‘She was attacked 50 years ago for being a woman in the Boston Marathon. On Monday, she ran it again at 70’ (The Washington Post, 2017): https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/04/17/fifty-years-ago-kathrine-switzer-was-attacked-as-she-ran-the-boston-marathon-the-reason-she-was-a-woman/

• ‘Kathrine Switzer: First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon’ (MAKERS, 2012):