Kathrine Switzer, a University of Lynchburg alumna and the first woman to enter and complete the Boston Marathon, will speak at a Girls on the Run event at LC at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, September 26 on Shellenberger Field.
LC President Kenneth Garren will introduce Switzer, who will give brief remarks before a mile run. The LC Chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha has teamed up with Girls on the Run, which benefits from this philanthropic partnership.
Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based youth development program for girls in 3rd-8th grade that teaches life skills through interactive lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory 5k running event.
At the invitation of the Lynchburg Road Runners, Switzer and her husband Roger Robinson are the guest speakers and announcers at this year’s Genworth Virginia 10 Miler September 28.
Switzer’s memoir, Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports, details her pioneering leap into a previously all-male sport.
In 1965 and 1966 when Switzer was a student at University of Lynchburg, the school had no women’s track team, but Coach Aubrey Moon asked Switzer to join his men’s team. Although she transferred to Syracuse University to pursue a journalism degree, Switzer had become hooked on running.
In 1967, she entered the Boston Marathon as K.V. Switzer along with her Syracuse coach and teammates, including her boyfriend, Tom Miller. When irate race official Jock Semple realized a woman was running, he tried to forcibly remove Switzer from the race. But Miller literally knocked Semple to the ground and Switzer was able to finish the 26-mile run. Switzer was inspired to create opportunities around the world for women in running and walking. She was winner of the 1974 New York City Marathon and a leader in making the women’s marathon an official event in the Olympic Games in 1984. She received the Billie Jean King Contribution Award from Women’s Sports Foundation for this effort in 1981.
Switzer has received numerous honors, including being inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, July 1998, inaugural class; and named Runner of the Decade (1967-77) and One of the Visionaries of the Century (2000) by Runner’s World Magazine. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame on October 1, 2011.
After a successful athletic career, Switzer turned her attention to the creation of women’s opportunities in sports and motivating others in both fitness and business. Switzer works as a TV commentator, writer and public speaker. She has been featured in publications around the world and on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Oprah, Today, Good Morning America, Tonight, Nightline, HBO, NPR, BBC, and CBC.