Kathrine Switzer is a name that is synonymous with women’s sport and this year she will compete in the Virgin Money London Marathon for the first time in 2018.
In 1967, women were barred from taking part in the 26.2 mile race so – to avoid rejection – Kathrine entered the Boston marathon using only her initials. Despite a race official forcibly trying to remove Kathrine, she finished the marathon proving to the world that women were more than capable of running the distance and paving the way for every woman who has run a marathon and overcome gender discrimination in sport since.
Now aged 71, she will be coming to the UK to take part in the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon. This historic moment comes in the same year that the UK is celebrating the suffragettes who 100 years ago helped convince Parliament to agree that women should be allowed to vote.
Kathrine Switzer said:
The streets of London have been an important part of women’s running history as well as women’s rights. In 1980, a year before the first London Marathon, we staged the Avon International Women’s Marathon here and successfully showed the Olympic Committee that we had the talent and international representation to be included in the Olympic Games. Ever since then I’ve wanted to run it also, but have been too busy. Now is the time and I am so honoured and excited to be out there.
Switzer, who won the 1974 New York City Marathon, has been a tireless advocate for women’s distance running and, after organising a global series of 400 women’s races in 27 countries, she was instrumental in getting the women’s marathon added to the programme of the Olympic Games for the first time in Los Angeles in 1984.
As an advocate for women’s sports participation, she has created “261 Fearless”, a worldwide non-profit movement that empowers women through running. 261 was the number Switzer wore during her famous first Boston Marathon in 1967 and has become synonymous with women’s equality in sport and is the number that she will wear in this years Virgin Money London Marathon. If you see her out on the course, you’re seeing a moment in history.
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