The History of Women in the New York City MarathonBreaking News
tags: sports, New York, womens history, running, Marathons
Kathrine Switzer is perhaps best known for her barrier-breaking run in 1967, when she became the first woman to officially finish the Boston Marathon, despite an official’s attempt to push her out of the 26.2-mile race.
But Switzer says that some of her most joyful runs—and her greatest victory—have come in New York. A longtime New York resident who has logged thousands of miles on the city’s streets, Switzer won the New York City Marathon in 1974 and is still the last New York resident to win the city’s signature race.
In 2017, 50 years after she made history in Boston, Switzer, then 70, lined up alongside more than 50,000 other runners—almost half of whom owed their place in the sport to her. It was Switzer’s first chance to run the five-borough course. When Switzer ran the race four times in the 1970s, it consisted of four laps around Central Park.
“The major marathons, like New York, have changed the face of our cities,” Switzer says. “Running is the most inclusive, diverse, egalitarian activity in the world.”
Just days before the 2017 marathon, a driver plowed a pickup truck down a crowded bike path along the Hudson River in Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring 11 others. The attack was the deadliest in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.
“For a moment they thought they needed to cancel the race,” Switzer says. “I had people call me and beg me not to run because they thought I would be in danger. I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I am going to be running with 55,000 people. The guy on my left might be a different race from me. The person on my right might not speak my language. The person behind me might be of a different religion. But we don’t care about any of those things. We’re going to be plugging along for 26.2 miles together, encouraging each other, motivating each other, and then hugging each other, all stinky and sweaty, at the end of the race. What better example is there of inclusion, diversity, equality, and respect?
“I always say, ‘If we can do this in the New York City Marathon, why can’t we do it in the whole world?’ ”
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