First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of her (cross)country men
The Boston Marathon has taken place every year since 1897, and goes through the city in New England on Patriot’s Day in April. It is one of many races occurring in cities all over the world, and it draws crowds of 500,000 people. It goes for the standard 26.2 miles and includes highlights like Heartbreak Hill and the Wellesley Scream Tunnel.
But let’s get to it. Until 1972, women were not allowed to run in this race. That’s seventy five years of testosterone-soaked debauchery! (what’s that even mean?) It turns out that until that year, women were physiologically unable to run long distances.
Thank goodness the tides changed from these humble beginnings, as there was a woman named Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb who hid and jumped in unofficially, causing a fury (1966)! Then in 1967, Katherine Switzer joined the race, with a number and everything, by only putting her first initial on the sign-in sheet. Instead of cheers, people like race official Jock Semple jumped onto the route and tried to take the numbers off her back, yelling “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers”! Eek!
A snapshot was taken, and this proud moment in history immortalized (and pictured here on We Can’t Believe It - he’s the guy in the dark suit being hulked off by another runner, Switzer’s boyfriend incidentally). Soon the marathon came to their senses and allowed women to run. Weirdly, this incident was included in Mr. Semple’s obituary in the New York Times. Not sure why they opened with that in a tribute to his memory, but what do I know? jw