Rewind back to 1967 – at the time, women didn’t run marathons. Sure, there were no real rules back then stating that marathons were men only events, however, almost all sports were played by men. Most people assumed women couldn’t run a marathon distance and if they even tried, they’d hurt themselves.
Of course, most women were not interested in running for the same reason. It was a time when people believed participating in sports made women masculine. Consider this: in the Olympic Games back in 1967, the longest event for women was just 800m on the track.
With all this in mind, picture this: it’s the Boston Marathon. We’re still in 1967. Kathrine Switzer innocently enters the Boston Marathon as KV Switzer. You can imagine what happened when the race director realized there was a woman in ‘his race’. His reaction? The man ran after her and tried to pull her off the course.
At the time, Kathrine admits she wasn’t trying to make a statement. However, because of the race director’s reaction, without meaning to, she actually changed running for women globally forever. It’s a big statement but it’s something that has to be said. Since the Boston Marathon 50 years ago, Kathrine has worked tirelessly to ensure that women can run anywhere around the world without fear or retribution.
Over the years, Kathrine has become a dear friend of mine. Of course, we initially bonded over running but she is a true inspiration and I’m incredibly grateful for everything she’s done for female runners. On 17 April 2017, a group of women, including myself, will line up at the Boston Marathon start line, alongside Kathrine Switzer to rejoice and celebrate women’s running globally.
It is truly such an honour to be included in Kathrine’s team as the world watches. On a personal level, this is also very special as it will be my third Boston Marathon. I’m more than happy to admit that I have unfinished business with this event. On both of the previous occasions I’ve run this marathon, I’ve been injured. So this time around, I’m aiming to run strong and with the added energy and motivation boost from Kathrine, her team and the wonderful Running Divas team.