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Mount Holyoke College
Weissman Center for Leadership

Kathrine Switzer

Breaking Through: The Power of Resilience

Public Lecture

October 17, 2013, 7:00 PM
Gamble Auditorium, Art Building
Mount Holyoke College
Free and Open to the Public
Wheelchair Accessible & Listening Device Access

Kathrine Switzer will share her personal story to become the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and break through the gender barrier, and her work to champion Title IX and women's access to sports and education.


Iconic athlete, sports and social advocate, author, and Emmy award-winning television commentator, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon.

Sports history changed in 1967 when she officially registered and finished that famous race. It was still a men's only event in those days and Switzer's entry created a worldwide uproar when the race director attacked her mid-stride and tried to remove her from the event. The photo of this incident flashed around the globe and became one of Time-Life's "100 Photos that Changed the World."Radicalized by the incident, Switzer campaigned for sports equality for women, and to create opportunities for them. Official status came in the Boston Marathon in 1972; later that year she was one of the creators of the first women's road race…and the women's running boom was on. Switzer went on to run 39 marathons, and won the New York City Marathon in 1974. She ran her personal best in 1975, finishing second in Boston (2:51:33). She then put her substantial energies into creating the Avon International Running Circuit of women's only races in 27 countries with over a million women participating from 1978 to the present. It was this series of events, which showed global participation and performances that largely convinced the International Olympic Committee to include a women's marathon for the first time in the 1984 Olympic Games. Because of its global impact, Switzer regards her work for the first women's Olympic Marathon to be her greatest accomplishment.

See Kathrine Switzer's full biography here