2022 Boston Marathon: Women trailblazers will be along the course to celebrate one of their own
The image has become iconic. In the midst of a mob of runners, a lady clothed in all grey and sporting a No. 261 bib, her dark blond hair cut in a bob, stands out. A guy approaches her and tries to push her off the course by putting his hands on her.
It was the Boston Marathon in 1967. K. Switzer, a 20-year-old Syracuse University student, ran under the name K. Switzer and started the marathon with her sweatshirt hood over her head.
Jock Semple, the race director, and Will Cloney, the Marathon chairman, raced at her on the course and attempted to pull her off course shortly after she started.
The referees were repelled by the men around her – her Syracuse teammates.
K. Switzer, better known as Kathrine, went on to become the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a registered participant, five years before the race included a women’s division.
Women now make up about half of the participants, 50 years after the first official field. The Boston Athletic Association will honour the ladies who helped thousands of people run the world’s oldest annual marathon in 2022.
The BAA did not officially let women to compete in the event until 1972. Nina Kuscsik took first place out of eight competitors.
“Back in the day, we were informed that your uteruses would fall out, that you wouldn’t be able to carry children, that you wouldn’t survive the event,” said Val Rogosheske. “I never felt like I needed courage to dispute that because I knew it wasn’t true in my bones.”
Rogosheske, together with her daughters and granddaughter, will compete in the 2022 marathon. Pat Barrett, Sara Mae Berman, Kuscsik, and Switzer, four of her classmates from the previous run, will be watching from the sidelines.
Today at 1PM at #FanFest, we'll be joined by the women of the 1972 Inaugural Women's Field: Nina Kuscsik, Pat Barrett, @KVSwitzer, Sara Mae Berman, and Valerie Rogosheske to hear about what's it's like to be back at the #BostonMarathon, 50 years later.#Boston126 pic.twitter.com/TG3w19pJ6h
— Boston Marathon (@bostonmarathon) April 17, 2022
Switzer, Berman, and Bobby Lou Gibb, who completed as an unregistered participant in 1966, were all acknowledged by Rogosheske for their efforts.
According to Globe records, Gibb didn’t start from the beginning in 1967, but rather sneaked in later to escape notice. She didn’t even make it to the finish line because Cloney caught up to her and pulled her off just as she was about to cross.
After the race, Cloney stated of Gibb, “I am wounded to think that an American girl would go someplace she is not wanted.”
However, one runner mentioned in the Boston Globe’s coverage of the 1967 race had his own theory as to why authorities were so adamant about upholding the regulations that barred women from racing.
He said, “Do you know why they’re throwing her off?” “Because there are 500 men who can’t defeat her.”
Here are some additional images from the 1972 Boston Marathon’s inaugural women’s field: