3 Women who have Changed the Face of Running
It’s now March, which means it’s Women’s History Month. In light of that, those of us here at Minneapolis Running figured it was only appropriate to pay homage to a few of the many women that had part in changing the face of running.
It wasn’t too long ago that women weren’t allowed to compete in events enjoyed by men, and we have some brave souls to thank for helping turn that around. Here are just a few women to remember…
Elizabeth (“Betty”) Robinson Schwartz
Elizabeth (“Betty”) Robinson Schwartz was an Illinois runner who was among the first women runners to compete in the Olympics. In 1928, 3 running events for women were finally permitted in the Amsterdam Olympic games, and Betty took home a gold medal for a 12.2 second 100-meter race.
She was the first woman ever to win a gold medal in an Olympic track-and-field event. She went on to have a successful running career and set several world records.
In 1931, Betty was in a biplane crash; her injuries were understandably extensive, and the doctors predicted that she wouldn’t walk again. But Betty more than recovered. She went on to win another gold medal in the 4×100-meter relay in the 1936 Olympic games before retiring.
Read more about Betty here.
Switzer was and continues to be a famous game-changer in women’s running. A 19-year-old journalism student at Syracuse University, in 1967 she registered for the Boston Marathon as “K. V. Switzer” for a whopping $3 entry fee and became the first woman to officially run the Mecca of marathons.
During the race she was physically attacked by an official, mocked by bystanders, and audibly argued with her ill-trained boyfriend. She finished the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes, and after that experience set out to change opportunities for women.
In 2014 the first 261 Women’s Marathon & 10k – named after Kathrine’s Boston Marathon bib number – was held in Madrid, Spain. Just yesterday on International Women’s Day (March 8), the 2015 race was held on the island of Mallorca, Spain. I think we should bring a group of Minneapolis women to the 2016 race. Who’s with me?!
Read the full story about Kathrine’s first Boston Marathon here.
Also known as the “Galloping Granny,” was the first woman to run across the United States. In 1978, this 53-year-old South African grandmother ran 2,871 miles from Los Angeles to New York City in 69 days, 2 hours, and 40 minutes. She actually started her career as a race walker but went on to finish several marathons, 100-mile and 24-hour runs, and a few long (upwards of 1,000 miles) trips in South Africa all before completing her trek across the United States.
She also holds South African women’s 80+ master records in 100, 200, 400, and 800 meters.
The stories of these women, and many, many others, are inspiring. Thanks, ladies, for your contributions. We’re grateful for the risks you took.