Kathrine Switzer began running at a time when “cool girls looked great all the time; they did not run.” In fact, commonly accepted myths and stereotypes led people to believe athletic women developed manly, muscular legs and moustaches and risked their uteruses falling out if they ran too far. Undeterred by the naysayers, Switzer ran wearing earrings, a headband and lipstick.
Switzer made history in 1967 by becoming the first woman to officially register and run the entire Boston Marathon. Her participation angered race officials who tried violently to eject her from the race as depicted in the now iconic photograph (see above).
Kathrine Switzer’s memoir Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports portrays the story of the infamous race that ultimately changed the course of women in sports, specifically women in running. Throughout the book, Switzer shares her story about overcoming what seemed impossible and changing lives. With the same determination and courage it took for her to run the race, Switzer went on to organize women-only races, and she effectively petitioned the IOC to make a women’s marathon part of the Olympic Games while also launching a successful career in journalism and business.
Switzer’s memoir isn’t just about running and her professional career. She offers inspiration for women around the world, as she explores issues faced by women in numerous countries. She inspires us to face naysayers, heartbreak, hard work, and risk of failure. She also encourages us to accomplish tasks by strategizing, setting goals, and tackling difficult tasks bit by bit: the same way her dad taught her to run one lap around their yard at a time 50 years ago.
Renee Boss is an educator and activist who believes access to quality education is a right for everyone. She is also a book lover, who has made it her goal to devour a book a week. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband and two sons. www.reneeboss.blogspot.com
Do you have an inspirational sports story like Switzer’s to share? In our upcoming Sporting Issue, CAKE&WHISKEY is celebrating the powerful women in the sports industry: the players, of course, but also the women working behind the scenes. We want the encouragers, those who help young women and girls build self-esteem through sports. We want the physical therapists, the product developers, the corporate iron-women, and the after-school tennis coach. Tell us about the innovative thinkers & inspiration-givers in the sports industry today. We would love to hear about them. Send thoughts, proposals, and submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.