Life&Culture

Boston Marathon retires Bib 261 for women's pioneer Switzer

Boston Marathon retires Bib 261 for women's pioneer Switzer

"He grabbed me... threw me back and said, "get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers", she recalled.

50 years ago a college student by the name of Katherine Switzer made history by being the first woman ever to successfully run the Boston Marathon - which was then an all-male race.

Fifty years on, aged 70, Ms Switzer returned to the starting line wearing the same number.

Kirui led another Kenyan sweep when two times former World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat won the women's race in 2:21:53, beating Kenyan born Rose Chelimo of Bahirain to second place in 2:22:51. After she finished this year's race, the Boston Marathon retired the number, guaranteeing Switzer would be the last runner to wear it.

She finished the race on Monday in four hours and 44 minutes - only 24 minutes slower than her first race aged 20.

Switzer was far from the only woman taking part in 2017, with more than 12,300 others having started.

"It's just an enormous sense of gratitude for the city of Boston, the streets of Boston, which changed my life and helped pave the way for what is nothing less than a social revolution in women's running", she said. "All the men around me knew that I was a woman", she told The Independent.

The 25-year-old finished third to victor Edna Kiplagat of Kenya and Bahrain's Rose Chelimo on Patriots' Day in MA running 2:23:00.

"I want to recognize veterans and everyone who thinks they can't do something", he said. The Boston Marathon officially admitted women in 1972 and Ms. Switzer's ardent effort at advocating running for women saw the event being included in the Los Angeles Summer Olympics of 1984. Included in those were members of the 261 Fearless Boston Marathon Team, an organisation Switzer founded after racing in 1967 to empower women in athletics. "We have come a light year, really", she said.

There was no apparent restriction on a woman's participation in the marathon.


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