Yup. Somebody start the intervention now because I canNOT put this book down! It’s Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer
. Those of you who run (or are just entertained by watching a 2+ hour race), will know Kathrine Switzer immediately as one of the first female long-distance runners. She helped make the woman’s marathon an olympic sport. She set several world records.
And she was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon in 1969. She registered under her initials only, as it was strictly a man’s race back then. The conventional wisdom of the day was that long-distance running would either a) make a woman into a man or b) make her uterus fall out thus preventing her from the making of the babies. When race officials realized that she was actually a woman and actually running the race, they tried to take her out. As in physically. An official tried to drag her off the course but was stopped when a fellow male runner side tackled him, sending them both into the crowd. In the picture here, Kathrine is in bib number 261 and the man in 390 was the tackler. She finished the race and proved to the world that a woman could run just as far as a man. In subsequent years, she had to hide in the bushes and then jump into the stream of runners as they passed her by at the start.
Can you imagine?? Seriously, running was a lot more exciting back then. Today we have women-only clubs and races. Women are represented in all levels of competitive running. But a mere 40 years ago, you could get physically assaulted just for having the audacity to run more than 3 miles. Unchaperoned.
In addition to some of the craziest sports anecdotes I’ve ever read (she was in Munich during the terrorist attacks at the Olympics!), she’s also full of awesome observations, like this one: “Women didn’t run, so shorts would not be cut to take a woman’s wider hips and fleshier thighs into consideration. The uniquely female fatty bit at the top of the inner thigh was especially vulnerable to chafing.” This will probably shock all of my female readers but all these years I have honestly thought that I was the only one with the “fatty bit” at the top of my inner thigh! Supermodels sure don’t have them. Most Hollywood actresses are air from their kneecaps up to their crotch. And yet, Kathrine, an elite athlete, has them! And they chafe her too!! I’ve never been so excited about chafing.
So, if you are looking for a good read to keep you busy on these cold nights (the buzz at the gym this morning was that it got down to -70 last night here. It’s currently -30 with the windchill.) definitely check this one out. Even if you aren’t a running afficionado, just the commentary on how far women’s rights in professional sports have come will be worth it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to it. You know it’s a good book if it wins out over my beloved Internet!!