Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Books That Motivate

Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports
 by Kathrine Switzer

"The most important running book in the last ten years." - Marathon and Beyond

Chapter 12 Official at Last

"And so, ladies are welcome at Boston. But you have to meet the men's qualifying time!" -Jock Semple (somewhat grudgingly), April 16, 1972

"We were official! We did it! It was an exhilarating victory and the end of a six-year campaign that was by turns controversial, exasperating, and exhausting. We were free to be athletes and no longer had to run carrying the banner of the whole female sex. It was very important: this acceptance marked the first time in history that women were given permission (and thus, endorsement) to participate in what had previously been a men-only sports event. We knew we were breaking down a political and social barrier just as surely as our suffragist foremothers did when the won the right to vote, or forced universities to become coeducational."    - Kathrine Switzer

In 1967 Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon (others had run, surreptitiously hiding in the bushes by the start and joining the race in progress, never receiving official recognition),  flying under the "no women" policy radar by entering as K. Switzer. She diligently trained for the race with her college track coach  and on race day was supported and encouraged by the somewhat surprised male runners around her. However, when the race director spotted her and recognized that she was clearly a woman, he was far from happy about it.

"....I heard the scraping of leather shoes coming up fast behind me, an alien and alarming sound amid the muted thump-thumping of the rubber running shoes........before I could react he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back screaming,"Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!" -Kathrine Switzer, on her skirmish with Boston Marathon race director Jock Semple (Chapter 7)

That was just the beginning of Kathrine Switzer's efforts to make the Boston Marathon, as well as other distance events, open to women, and ultimately to get the marathon added for women in the Olympic Games in 1984. This is a fabulous, and  inspiring memoir. A "must read" for all runners, as well as those interested in the history of civil rights.

Happy reading folks! - Michelle

click here to link to the book at Barnes & Noble: Marathon Woman, by Kathrine Switzer

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