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Legendary Marathoner Kathrine Switzer Tells Her Story at Lasell

April 16, 2010

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With the Boston Marathon fast approaching, legendary distance runner Katherine Switzer visited Lasell College and gave the College community a detailed account of the athletic moment that changed her life and the lives of many young women.

In 1967, Switzer entered the Boston Marathon and became the first woman to ever finish the race. Her participation caused an international uproar because, at the time, women were thought to be too fragile to run that distance.

"Running in the marathon that day changed everything," said Switzer during her talk at Lasell's de Witt Hall earlier this week. "From then on, I had a focus in life." Switzer had no idea of the impact that she would make on the world by entering and finishing the Boston Marathon.

In two separate talks, one at lasell Village and one at deWitt hall, Switzer told students, faculty, Village residents and staff about that monumental day and the events that drew her into the sport of marathon running.

"I have been a regular runner for 50 years," said Switzer.

Her father's encouragement sparked her interest in running and eventually led her to enter the 1967 Boston Marathon.

Though she faced doubts from her coach and a Boston Athletic Association racing official attempted to forcefully remove her from the marathon, Switzer continued on to finish and became the first woman to ever do so.Finishing the race set the stage for Switzer's career as a marathoner and as an advocate for women's fitness and athletics.

After Switzer completed her first marathon, she went on to complete 36 more, from Boston to New York, to Los Angeles to New Zealand. She wrote a book, Marathon Woman, and became a sought-after speaker. But , she admits, her true calling was to encourage women runners to attempt the marathon, and to be recognized as athletes and strong capable women. Throughout her career, Switzer has created programs in 27 countries for over 1 million women that led to the inclusion of the women's marathon as an official event in the Olympic Games.

Switzer has used her experiences to pass on a message of empowerment to women all over the world to believe in themselves and their athletic capabilities.

- Contributing Writer - Lucas Baxter

 

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