Five Questions With Kathrine Switzer
In 1967, a 19-year-old journalism student named Kathrine Switzer registered for the Boston Marathon under her initials only, because women were not yet allowed to run the race. The infamous images (above and below) shows a B.A.A. official trying to rip off her bib. The hunky guy body checking that official was her boyfriend at the time. (Ah, chivalry.) Despite the setback, she still finished the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes.
So it’s no surprise that we were thrilled to run into Switzer at the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo, while she was promoting her book, Marathon Woman, and Skirt Sports, a women’s activewear company (mostly skirts, of course). We threw a few elbows to get close enough to snap a pic. Below, our rapid-fire Q&A:
1. What are some of the little things that you remember from that day in 1967?
The smell at the start line was unbelievable. It was a freezing, wet day with wind and snow squalls. But the smell of wet leaves in Hopkinton was a very organic, fertile smell. Plus, there was the stinging smell of liniment, which people were rubbing on their knees in those days to heat up muscles. Also, don’t forget, it was all men! I could smell their adrenaline while waiting to run. It really was amazing. I could hear a one person clapping vigorously from the sidelines and as I approached, she shouted, ‘You go, honey! Do it for all of us!’
2. What is your favorite marathon of them all? And don’t worry, you don’t have to say Boston.
Boston is my favorite marathon of them all because the people are so close to you, and they are knowledgeable about running. Or, at least they think they are and express themselves loudly.
3. How do you feel physically? Has being a runner improved your health in your opinion?
I feel fabulous! Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m 67. I truly believe running made this happen. I have a little achilles problem right now, but that is not from running, I swear! I twisted my ankle stepping in a hole. I’ve been very lucky to have very minimal running injuries.
4. Do you still run?
Yes, normally, I run three to four times per week, at least 45 minutes to an hour. Then, once a week I do a longer run, for 75 to 90 minutes.
5. What’s your favorite part about being back at the Marathon?
The Boston Marathon gives me a lifetime of experiences every year whether I’m visiting or broadcasting.
*This interview has been edited and condensed.