Contributing Author: Mr. Kurtis Graves, Department of Physical Therapy
Kathrine Switzer is a name that hadn’t been on my radar until just recently. I’m not an avid long distance runner, nor am I a historian of the sport, so I was completely unfamiliar with her story. If her name doesn’t ring any bells for you either, you’re in for a treat this week. At 19 years old, Kathrine Switzer registered for the Boston Marathon under the name K.V. Switzer. She did so because women were not allowed to run the Boston in 1967. When race officials got word that a woman was running the course, the race director jumped into the field of runners and attempted to forcibly remove Kathrine. With a little help from her boyfriend who shoved down the race director, Kathrine Switzer became the first ever female to complete the Boston Marathon. Not willing to rest on that accomplishment, she went on to win the New York City Marathon in 1974. After taking a step back from competitive racing, she poured her energy and focus into advocating for the women’s marathon to be added to the Olympics. She is planning on running the Boston Marathon again this April to mark the 50th anniversary of her historic race.
My hope in sharing this story is that each of you identifies the multiple components of wellness she possessed in order to accomplish her highest goals. Yes, given her elite running record the physical part is the most obvious. However, in order to become the first female to finish the Boston she had to leverage the intellectual, emotional, and social aspects of wellness too. Her self-awareness, her willingness to challenge the status quo, and the support network behind her all contributed to the pioneering life she has lived thus far. What’s more? She’s not done yet. Good luck this year at the Boston Marathon, Katherine!
“I met her when I ran Boston the first time in 2009. It is fair to say that her courage to run the Boston Marathon paved the way for me to live the life that I do.”
- Olympic runner Kara Goucher speaking of Kathrine Switzer
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