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FROM THE VAULT: April 19, 1967 Woman Uses Chicanery to Register in All Male Boston Marathon

“Get the hell out of my race and give me that number.”- Jock Semple, Boston Marathon race director as he tried to run down Kathrine Switzer in 1967 to rip off her official number. Switzer became the first women to enter the Boston Marathon. For several years, another woman, Roberta Gibb, ran in the race, but did not dare register. For Kathrine’s part, she registered only as K. Switzer and had a male friend pick up her number.

Photo credit: Harry Trask for AP Images

When Semple was notified of the woman in the race, he jumped from the truck he was riding in and ran after her to get the number off her back. Switzer’s boyfriend knocked him down and the two finished the race.

“I’m not o’poozed t’ women’s athletics,” says Jock, whose burr remains almost as thick as it was the day in 1923 when he left Clydebank for America. Indeed, he has donated trophies to women’s races. “But we’re taught t’ respect laws—t’ respect rules. The amateur rules here say a woman can’t run more th’n a mile and a half. I’m in favor of makin’ their races longer, but they doon’t belong with men. They doon’t belong runnin’ with Jim Ryun. You wouldn’t like to see a woman runnin’ with Jim Ryun, wouldya?” source: Sports Illustrated April 22, 1968

The Associated Press photo was seen around the world. And yet, it would take another FIVE years to officially allow women to participate. Today, more than 40 percent of the runners are women.

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4 Responses

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