Woman paves way for runners everywhere

It only takes a pair of sneakers to get out and run, right? But back in 1967 it wasn't that easy. The first woman to have run the Boston Marathon is making an impact around the world and in the Queen City.

In 1967 the Boston Marathon was a men's only event, but a 20-year-old Syracuse University student wanted to change that. 

Kathrine Switzer was the first ever female to run the marathon.

"Running is transformational," Switzer says. "You put one foot in front of the other, you feel like you can do anything."

Her female feat wasn't without protest. During mile two, her boyfriend had to fight off race officials who attacked her. 

Despite feeling afraid and embarrassed, Switzer was radicalized by the experience.

"I wanted to help introduce women to the wonderful opportunities of running."

Switzer continues to do just that. She has helped organize 400 races around the world and even got the women's marathon added to the Olympics in 1984.

On Thursday, Switzer spoke to the Girls on the Run organization which was formed in Charlotte and has spread nationwide. 

The organization focuses on teaching 8 to 13-year-old girls life skills through dynamic, interacting lessons and running programs. According to their website, their mission is to create a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.

Switzer is a strong supporter of the organization as she says running changed her life after she began at age 12. 

"If I can reach a 12-year-old and change her life, I've succeeded," Switzer says.

At age 70, Switzer continues to run. 2016 marks the 50 year anniversary of her shattering the glass ceiling for female marathon runners. She says she will celebrate by running the Boston Marathon for the ninth time. 

 

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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