Sports-Equality Champ and Marathoner Speaks

Athlete, sports and social advocate, author, and TV commentator Kathrine Switzer

Kathrine Switzer braved blatant discrimination to become the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon—including a physical attack from the race’s director. That 1967 event turned her into an advocate for gender equity in athletics. She’s also an author and television sports commentator. And, at 65, still runs marathons.

Switzer will speak October 17 at 7 pm in Gamble Auditorium about “Breaking Through: The Power of Resilience.” Her talk is part of the Weissman Center for Leadership's year-long series focused on resilience.

In 1967, the Boston Marathon was a men-only event, but Switzer officially registered and started to run anyway. When the race director attacked her mid-stride and tried unsuccessfully to remove her from the race, it created an international uproar. The photo of this incident flashed around the globe and became one of Life's 100 Photographs That Changed the World.

The event radicalized Switzer. In 1972, she campaigned to make women official participants in the Boston Marathon, and later that year helped create the first women’s road race. She went on to create running events for women all over the world, and was a leader in getting the women’s marathon into the Olympic Games.

As a television commentator, she has covered the Olympics, world and national championships; the New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles marathons; and every televised edition of the Boston Marathon for 36 consecutive years.

She is also the author of Marathon Woman, an award-winning memoir; 26.2 Marathon Stories (coauthored with her husband, Roger Robinson); and Running and Walking for Women Over 40. 

In 2011, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for breaking gender barriers and creating positive global social change.

Read more about Switzer.