Sam Fariss wanted to write a piece on Kathrine Switzer and Molly Seidel, and she did it. Samantha wanted to examine some of the changes since women’s running was championed by athletes like Kathrine Switzer. Even the recent bronze medal in the Olympic marathon won by Molly Seidel, had an link to Switzer as she was part of the gutty small group who brought the marathon to the LA Olympics in 1984.
Kathrine Switzer has demystified running for many, and championed running, being a huge example for women and men, of all ages. Molly Seidel notes that she runs on a course where many fast women have run, and Molly champions running and an openess to the sport that is attracting women and men in this day.
Katherine Switzer, a true running legend, winner at Boston and NYC Marathons, photo courtesy of ABC.com
Molly Seidel, photo courtesy of PUMA running
Run by Women, #9: From Switzer to Seidel
By Sam Fariss
Molly Seidel has quickly become a household name in the world of runners and marathon enthusiasts. However, to see just how far the running world has come – setting the stage for Seidel to accomplish everything that she already has – these same enthusiasts need to focus on one of the most historic female runners of all time: Kathrine Switzer.
Switzer has not only run 42 marathons in her lifetime, she was the first official woman to ever run the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon. In 1967, Switzer became the first ever woman to register for the race in Boston and finished in 4 hours and 20 minutes.
“I could tell, they felt indignant at having to cover a girl. Being a journalism student, this amused me most. Here you are a big-shot sports reporter and your editor tells you to wait for the girl,” she shares in her memoir, Marathon Woman.
Switzer first set her eyes on Boston when she ran into a 50-year-old university mailman at Syracuse, where she was studying journalism and training with the men’s cross country team. This man was Arnie Briggs, who had run 15 Boston Marathons by the time the pair met.
Briggs was quick to take the young Switzer under his wing, becoming both her coach and training partner. He even ran her first Boston with her, though she pushed him forward to let him finish just steps before her.
Since 1967, Switzer has run 5 more Boston Marathons; her final race in th 1970s on the course was her fastest marathon ever, finishing at the 2 hours and 51 minutes , 37 second mark, where she was second women. (Her final Boston, so far, would be in 2017).
Her final Boston Marathon as an elite athlete was in 1975 and it qualified her as both 3rd fastest American woman and 6th fastest woman in the world that year. In 2017, Kathrine Switzer ran Boston in celebration of her 50th anniversary of becoming the first official women finisher in Boston. Kathrine finished in a time of 4:44.31.
Beyond her eight races in Boston, Switzer competed in a total of nine NYC Marathons. In 1974, on a 100-degree day, Switzer finished the course across the boroughs in 3 hours and 7 minutes. This time had her clocking in 27 minutes ahead of the second woman to finish, which “will stand forever as the biggest margin of victory in the history of the race.” In 2017, Kathrine finished NYC marathon in 4:48.21, her first marathon in NYC since her win in 1974.
Switzer is, in fact, the last woman from the state of New York to take home a victory in the New York City Marathon.
In comparison to today’s competitions, Switzer would not be considered the speediest racer in the field but she most certainly paved the path for runners like Seidel to follow their marathon-running dreams.
Seidel ran the New York City Marathon a few weeks ago and came in 4th – her third time placing in the top 4 racers in a Marathon this season, including the U.S. Olympic Trials and the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Her time of 2:24:42 was a personal best and broke the female American record for the course, previously held by Kara Goucher.
“I’m just really honored, there are so many good women who have run on this course… It’s a huge honor,” Seidel said following the NYC Marathon.
Kathrine Switzer is back in running. In 2011, she had run the Berlin marathon, stating at the time, that Berlin was her final marathon. Kathrine had a change of heart. In 2017, Kathrine ran the Boston Marathon in 2017 (50th anniversary of her first Boston run) with her club, 261fearless (the number she was assigned in Boston in 1967), then, the 2017 NYC Marathon (her ninth appearace in NYC).
Jock Semple attempting to stop runner 261, Kathrine Switzer, (April 1967), photo courtesy of Boston Herald