Women’s running pioneer Kathrine Switzer announced this week that she will be running the 2017 Boston Marathon 50 years after becoming the first woman to run the historic event with an official number.
Switzer, who will be 70 at the time of next year’s race, was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as an official entrant during a time when women were banned from competing. She ran under the name “K.V. Switzer” in 1967 and was cleared to run because of an oversight in the entry screening process.
Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb raced Boston in 1966 and is officially the first woman to have run the entire Boston Marathon. Gibb, later recognized as the 1966, 1967 and 1968 race winner by the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.), did not run with an official race number.
In one of the race’s most memorable moments, the race co-director attempted to push Switzer off course when it was discovered that she was racing. Switzer’s boyfriend, who was running alongside her, pushed the race official away in what has become an iconic photo. (The photo can be found at the top of this page.)
“It is an honor and joy to participate in the 121st Boston Marathon,” said Switzer in a B.A.A. statement. “What was a dramatic incident 50 years ago when angry race co-director Jock Semple tried to throw me off the course for being a girl, became instead a defining moment for me and women runners throughout the world. The result is nothing less than a social revolution; there are now more women runners in the United States than men.”
Women were allowed to officially enter the Boston Marathon in 1972. According to the B.A.A., Boston was the first major marathon to welcome women as official race entrants. The women’s marathon made its Olympic debut in 1984 in Los Angeles.
Switzer will be running with 261 Fearless, Inc., a women’s empowerment group, during next year’s race on April 17. The number 261 in the organization’s name pays tribute to the race number assigned to Switzer in 1967. Registration for the 2017 Boston Marathon opens on Sept. 12.