Female Boston Marathon pioneer visits MKE

Posted at 3:14 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 17:52:53-04

As strange as it seems now, there was a time not long ago when women competing in sports was frowned upon. Especially an event as grueling as a marathon.

But Kathrine Switzer helped break down those doors in 1967 when she became the first woman to enter and complete the Boston Marathon.

Switzer, who was attending Syracuse University at the time, entered the race as “K. Switzer.” Race officials didn't notice her running along the Boston streets until a few miles in, resulting in an iconic photo of an official trying to pull off her bib number. 

"My boyfriend bashed him, sent him out of the race and I finished," said Switzer, who's visiting Milwaukee in conjunction with the Girls on the Run organization.

"I was a 20-year-old woman running my first race and I was really traumatized by this. But sometimes the worst things in your life can become the best things in your life, and by the time I finished the race I knew I wanted to create opportunities for other women in the sport, and look what's happened now, there's more women runners in the United States than there are men."

The Boston Marathon finally allowed women to compete in the race in 1972, with Switzer finishing third.

She went on to become an Emmy-wining sports journalist and a vocal proponent of female participation in athletics.

Switzer is the guest of honor at Girls on the Run's Limitless Potential Breakfast on Wednesday at Marquette University. Click here for ticket information.