MAP MY RUN—In 1967, Americans were mostly on the same page that women couldn’t run a marathon. The patronizing consensus was that 26.2 miles was physically impossible for women to complete. It wasn’t until a 20-year-old journalism student entered the male-only Boston Marathon under the gender-ambiguous name K.V. Switzer and crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 20 minutes that people began to rethink, “Well, I’ll be damned. Women can go the distance.”
Still, it took another five years (1972) before another female was legally allowed — and invited — to run the famous New England course. By that point, however, Kathrine Switzer was already well on her way to becoming a sports icon, front-page feminist, and, eventually, a first-place finisher at the New York City Marathon in 1974.
MapMyRun caught up with the 70-year-old author (she just re-launched her memoir “Marathon Woman” in April), Emmy award-winning television commentator and nonprofit director to talk about her recent return to the Boston Marathon, donning the same official bib, Number 261, that she wore that fateful day in 1967. Amazingly, age hasn’t really slowed Switzer, who completed the April race in 4 hours and 44 minutes. Here’s how she prepared for her 40th marathon, what it meant to be back in Beantown, and why we still need to level the playing field — yes, five decades later.