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home > community > viewpoint > marathon woman - running the race to revolutionize women’s sports

MARATHON WOMAN - Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports
A Book by Kathrine Switzer

MARATHON WOMAN - Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports

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By Lin Molloy
Posted Tuesday, 10 April, 2007

There is an old saying – “never judge a book by its cover”, but one look at “Marathon Woman” and I knew I had to read this book. I was right. Kathrine Switzer looks you right in the eye and says, “We did it, now come with me to see just how it was done!”

In 1967, women’s distance running was non-existent, with the longest Olympic distance for woman being the 800 meters. Women were considered not only incapable of endurance sports but it was believed that it would cause them physical harm. There was also the misguided belief that women’s sports and femininity did not go together.

Kathrine Switzer had other ideas. “Marathon Woman” is about her life and how she set about changing the way women were viewed in the sporting world, particularly running. She not only shows that woman can ‘go the distance’ with speed but do so with grace and beauty, proving that athleticism is no threat to femininity. ‘Marathon Woman’ has a wonderful selection of photographs to back this up.

“Marathon Woman” takes you on a journey with the destination being the running of the first Olympic women’s marathon, Los Angeles, 1984. In her own words, “determination is part of the Switzer genetic code. ” Had it not been for the determination of Kathrine Switzer, this part of woman’s Olympic history may never have been written.

To reach this destination Kathrine Switzer weaves a career around her running. She becomes a world-class runner, one of the best in the world at the time, with a 2:51 marathon to her credit. With her innovative ideas on sponsorship, she creates Avon Running for women, taking running to women all over the world. Her goal was for every woman to have the opportunity to share in her ‘secret weapon’ and to present ‘showcase’ events for the sporting world to see the quality and depth of talented women in distance running. She even managed to shut down the streets of London for the Avon International Marathon in 1980, something that had never been done before.

Kathrine has a way of making you feel you are right alongside her sharing in all her ‘adventures’, whether it be getting jostled and shoved about on that first Boston Marathon run in 1967, feeling grief stricken and homesick on a gray beach at Marathon or feeling the absolute joy of her perfect run at Boston in 1975. In “Marathon Woman” you will experience each and every one of her heartaches, indignations, accomplishments, humorous and joyful moments, of which there are many.


In one dramatic race, they showed the world the limitlessness of women’s heroic capabilities


When number ‘261’, K.V. Switzer crossed the finish line of Boston in 1967 she was a ‘happy marathoner’. How ecstatic she would have been then if she could have looked into the future, to 1984 to see where it would all lead – Joan Benoit entering the stadium to a heroine’s welcome in the first women’s Olympic marathon.

“In one dramatic race, they showed the world the limitlessness of women’s heroic capabilities”, so too does Kathrine Switzer in “Marathon Woman”.


Kathrine Switzer announces the launch of her memoir, MARATHON WOMAN, on the occasion of her 40th Anniversary of her first running the Boston Marathon. The launch will take place at the Boston Marathon weekend. Here are the details of her book and the Boston and subsequent appearances:

Kathrine's appearances after the Boston Marathon:

  • April 21: Lynchburg College, VA: Dedication of Shellenberger Field and book signing (info: 434-544-8821)
  • April 24: Toronto: JeansMarines Great Gathering, speech and book signing (info:416-591-7649)
  • April 28&29: New Jersey Marathon
  • May 2: ACLI Capitol Challenge, Washington, DC
  • May 5: The Women's Health & Fitness Expo, Kingston, NY (info: 732-682-6063)
  • May 8: Running speech, Akron, OH (details: 330-252-4500)
  • May 11&12: Montana Women's Run, Billings, MT
  • Jun 9: Circle of Friends NY City Mini Marathon
  • Jun 10: Orange Classic, Middletown, NY
  • Jun 13-16: Greater Clarksburg,West VA 10K
  • Jul 6-8: The Boilermaker, Utica, NY
  • Aug 15-17: Women on the Move Running Retreat, Spearfish, SD
  • Aug 18: Boston Scientific Heart of Summer, Minneapolis
  • Oct 5-7: LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon
  • Oct 13-14: Toronto Marathon
  • Oct 26-28: Niagara Falls International Marathon
  • Nov 1-4: ING New York City Marathon

Additionally, after March 25:

A selection of photos from the book:



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