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.
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.
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........