Women’s History Behind the Boston Marathon

Posted on Posted in Motivation

By: Arden Burrows


The 119th Boston Marathon was held on April 20th this year. The race is the world’s oldest annual marathon and the first Boston Marathon was held in 1897. The race attracts around 30,000 participants each year and there are certain qualifying times runners have to meet in order to be accepted into the race.


What is little known about the marathon is its history with women. Traditionally, women were not allowed to enter the race. Kathrine Switzer in 1967 chose to challenge the all-male event by running the marathon. Switzer registered using her initials but was stopped on the course by race official, Jock Semple. He attempted to rip off her bib number and force her off of the course. Switzer managed to get past the official and finish the race, making her the first woman to formally finish the marathon with a bib. It wasn’t until 1972, however, that women were allowed to register and compete in the marathon. Today, almost half of the participants in the race are women, which is in part made possible by the brave actions of Kathrine Switzer.


Below is a picture of race official Jock Semple attempting to force Switzer off of the course.