Tuesday, 13 December 2011


 The majority of the QUOTE(s) OF THE DAY which flow in each morning from R.W. are often quite insightful but generally quite personal statements about how much running means to the individual  being quoted.
In contrast yesterday's  quote was somewhat more significant with regard to the evolution of  running as a sport today.   Running as we view the activity on all levels.
 The quote from KATHRINE SWITZER went as follows....

"When I go to the BOSTON MARATHON now, I have wet shoulders.......women fall into my arms crying. They're weeping for joy,  because running has changed their lives.
                                 They feel they can do anything"

 Whilst other women had run the  mens  only BOSTON MARATHON unofficially she was the first woman to enter and start the race with a number on.  But she didn't enter as Kathrine.  She entered as K.V.  Switzer as this was her normal signature apparently; no attempt to deceive it seems!  The year was 1969.
 In a very interesting piece describing events leading up to the race she describes how running a mile or so after her hockey training  whilst still at school she was spotted and invited  to take part in a mixed  mile race as a youngster.  Participation which was not well received.   But she persevered and at 19 with the help a 50 year old coach/friend gradually built up her running distances such that  running Boston became a real ambition.
 Knowing Boston was a male bastion of marathon running her friend was initially against the idea.
Women didn't run marathons, couldn't run marathons, he thought.  But realising the strength of her desire he gradually came around and supported her in her training.  Together  they covered up to 31 miles in preparation.
 She describes how the morning of the '69 race the weather was so poor they decided to start  in "sweats" which they would later discard.  So it was not so evident on the line that she was female.
 After 4 miles she was detected  by the vehicle carrying race organiser JOCK SEMPLE, photographers and journalists .     It wasn't long before the volatile, seething  Semple erupted; incensed  at how his race had been violated.  He leapt off the vehicle to drag Kathrine Switzer off the course. 
 But he hadn't accounted for her coach and her hefty brother who was also running on the basis of "anything SHE can do, I can do..."   Together they manhandled  Semple off and she continued running.
 She sets the record straight in stating that contrary to reports stating that  she did NOT finish the race,  she did finish and actually ran about 4:20.  
 She persevered with her efforts and the 1972 race saw women officially "welcome" to enter.  Meanwhile she continued to improve; she  eventually brought her P.B. down to 2:51.  She won the New York City marathon in 1974.
  Lesser individuals would have given up that morning as soon as they were "attacked" by Jock Semple but her determination and perseverence  really opened the flood gates for women in  running.   
  By the end of the '80s women had a good foothold  in American marathons and so when Chris Brasher and John Disley started the London in 1981 based on their experiences in Boston and New York  women would be a key part of the event,  although I can find no record of the male/female split in the 1981 London event which 7055 started.   Previously many marthon fields didn't make 3 figures.  

 The race as they say is history.  The interest in the London marathon  sparked a surge of interest in distance running generally with hundreds of new running clubs focussing mainly on road running starting  up throughout the country,  as traditional clubs generally failed to cater for the new non-elite runner.  Gradually over the last 20 years the proportion of female members in these '80s clubs  as we all know has increased and increased.
  Results from the late '70s and from current races  shed light on how this increase is manifested in the area of competition.  But that's for another day........

1 comment:

  1. it was her american football playing boyfriend according to the Boston Marathon book who sent Jock Semple flying in the picture above