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Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports
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Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women's Sports

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  720 ratings  ·  114 reviews
Katherine Switzer ran the Boston Marathon in 1967 where she was attacked by one of the event's directors who wanted to eject her from the all-male race. She fought off the director and finished the race. From the childhood events that inspired her to winning the New York City Marathon in 1974, this liberally illustrated book details the struggles and achievements of a pion ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published March 30th 2007 by Da Capo Press (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,229)
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Nita
Wow! This was an unexpected page-turner. Kathrine Switzer was the second woman to run the Boston Marathon. In 1967, she checked the rules and found nothing explicitly preventing a woman from running, but, just in case, she signed up as K.V. Switzer. At mile-four a race official ran onto the course and tried to drag her off. Her boyfriend at the time shoved the offical aside and Switzer and her running friends took off. A photographer captured the incident. Switzer finished the race. The photos l ...more
Kathy Simpson
Dec 03, 2008 Kathy Simpson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Runners
Shelves: run
Marathoning had always been a sport for men until Kathrine Switzer. In Marathon Woman, she details the challenges she faced while trying to popularize the woman's marathon.
Switzer's passion for running exceeds her drive to support woman's running, and through this book she is able to illustrate just how important running has been in her life.
She tells an honest and hilarious story of how she was able to get her foot into the door of running, and spread the woman's marathon throughout the world
...more
Amy Moritz
Despite being a sports writer, I don't have a lot of patience for sports books. This is one of the exceptions. Switzer was one of the first women to run in the then-all male Boston Marathon. She is a writer who became an athlete and running advocate (not a jock who became a writer) so her story telling is interesting and compelling. She throws in enough aspects of her personal life to make you sympathetic to her story but with just enough detail to keep it from being a tell-all. You have to be i ...more
Cynthia
Oct 20, 2008 Cynthia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Runners, want to be runners, athletes, want to be inspired to reach their own personal best goals.
The author's tone, below average writing skills, and generalized disparaging remarks about women (as compared to herself) made me take a break from this book. I will try to push forward. I am! I am pushing forward!

I'll just give a review while I am still on p. 236:

Look, this woman did a great thing! She was a revolutionary in women's sports. I admire her for it and others like her. Yes, others like her. She writes, at times, like she was the only woman who trained and ran like she did. She prese
...more
Emily
I’m spoiled. I began running when I was a teenager, and have always taken it for granted as there for me when I need to relieve stress, boost my self-esteem (any day can be a good day if you got a great run in!), burn calories, get some quiet, get some fresh air, think, etc. I get frustrated at the occasional sexism obstacles I encounter in the MMA world – but after reading Marathon Woman I’m painfully aware of how minuscule these problems are. It was shocking, inspiring, empowering, and humilia ...more
Kimberlie
Kathrine Switzer, first woman to *officially* run the Boston Marathon in 1967, journalist, and professional women's sports organizer, has written a compelling memoir that inspired me at 44 to train as a runner. I've been athletic all my life (since 3rd grade when I was one of two girls on the baseball team) and was born close to when Title IX was passed, Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in tennis on national TV and the Boston Marathon finally allowed women in the race! Switzer makes the individ ...more
Kristi Mangan
Her story as a pioneer of women's marathon racing is engrossing and inspiring; I thought of her often as I trained for and ran Boston (especially because the weather was about the same this year as it was the first year she ran). I enjoyed reading about her training, the sheer guts and determination it took for her become one of the world's top female runners, and her tireless efforts to allow women to compete in marathons. I didn't enjoy reading about her issues with her first two husbands, how ...more
Megan
This book was unexpectedly very good! I usually have a hard time getting through autobiographies but was not the case with this one. Kathrine Switzer is famous for her 1967 running of the Boston Marathon with the bib "261" using her initials "K.V." to register for what had up to then been an all-male race...forever changing running, women in running, women in sports, and so on. I guess I hadn't realized how women were basically not welcome in sports until the mid-1970s. The women's Olympic Marat ...more
Dawn
I was expecting this to be the story of how and why Kathrine Switzer ran the Boston Marathon in 1967 and the fallout from being the first woman to do so "officially." What I was not expecting was that was just the beginning of the story. Switzer was a key figure in getting women's distance running (and specifically marathoning) accepted by The Powers That Be, and *that's* the story she tells in this book. Highly recommended.
Kirstin
Apr 22, 2011 Kirstin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all women, athletes, teenage girls
Shelves: running
I've been inspired by the infamous photos of K. Switzer and Jock Semple for ages and I enjoyed reading the story that led up to, and unfolded after, that event. If you're a runner, or a woman, you'll enjoy it. It was interesting to read about the evolution of the marathon from a time when races were small affairs where most people knew each other to the later years of corporate sponsorship and promotion, and beyond.
Anne
This book is about women's running. It was educational, interesting and sometimes emotional and funny. It's about how running changed the authors life and about how she then spent her life making running accessible to all women. All this, against surprising and rather large obstacles, such as: pervasive thought of the time, "women are too frail to run." It was fascinating to read about the progression of women's running. From those long dark training runs, before distance running was even consid ...more
Elise Smith
Kathrine Switzer has obviously done a lot for women's running, running in general, and women's sports in general. She talks about her "idea box" where she would put ideas that she would randomly have about running and racing. So many of her ideas are staples at road races around the world today (medals for every finisher, fashionable t-shirts, water stops!, etc....Pretty much all of the reasons why I LOVE race day). She undoubtedly had a hand in so much!

It was strange to read a book with SO MAN
...more
Elyse
This is Kathrine Switzer's memoir of her running career and her quest to make the women's marathon an Olympic event. She frankly admits she never considered herself a gifted runner. She just liked it and through vigorous training became an elite runner. She's the first woman who officially ran the Boston Marathon in 1967. Women had been running the marathon distance (26.2 miles) since the 1930's but had to jump out of the bushes at the start of the race. Kathrine didn't see a "men only" statemen ...more
Marissa
The first half of the book was awesome. I loved reading about Kathrine's training progression and being able to relate to a lot of her mental and physical obstacles. I of course couldn't relate to the stereotype that she faced back in the 60's that "women can't run marathons....their uterus might fall out!" LOL. Can you believe people believed such a thing. I was fairly familiar with the images of her at Boston in 1967- the race director tried to physically pull her out of the race, but I didn't ...more
Kecia
When I ran the Boston Marathon I knew the legends of the women who had come before me. I knew I knew I was running on hallowed ground. I knew the story of the story of Kathrine Switzer registering to run using her first initial. I knew the story of Jock Semple trying to push her off the course because she was a woman. But Switzer's story stopped there for me. I did not know what happened beyond the finish line.

Switzer's memoir is as much the history of women's distance running as it is her own p
...more
Michelle Borg
I read this book when I was training for my first marathon, at the age of 57. I expected motivation, tips and coaching; what I got was inspiration and a fascinating look at the history of women in sport. I was also surprised to learn that Avon was the first company to sponsor competitive events for female runners in both developed and third world countries. All thanks to Kathrine Switzer, who asked Avon to champion the acceptance of girls and women in long-distance running.
Cynthia
Meet Kathy Switzer, the woman who broke the gender barrier in the Boston Marathon in 1967, and one of the most inspiring women I've ever had the pleasure to read about. I grew up taking for granted many fruits of women's lib movement, such as the right to wear pants at work, to ability to obtain credit in my own name (not my husband's or father's), and to freedom to participate in virtually any sport I want to. But all of those things came about when I was a child, and were very hard-won by wome ...more
Sarah
Fascinating look at the early years of women's distance running. It's amazing -- and horrifying -- to me that as recently as forty years ago, women were considered too delicate to run anything more the a few miles. Switzer was told she'd turn into a man or a lesbian or that her uterus would fall out! It's laughable now, but appalling that people believed such things.

One passage that stood out to me was when she was at the start of Boston in 1974 and not only were there 42 women in the field, but
...more
Terri
LOVE THIS BOOK! Ok, this is not going to win any literary awards, but I have to say that I was just astounded to read about the impact Katherine Switzer had, and continues to have, on women's sports, running specifically. It was eye opening to read about her experience as the first official female Boston Marathon runner. I was stunned to realize that the inequity between men's and women's sports was so great and relatively so recent, in my lifetime... Seriously - women did not run the marathon i ...more
Maura
Thanks Nita for recommending this book! It was a surprising great read (and yes, I actually did physically read this one - not audio).

Although I should have heard of this woman I never knew her name. I think I remember hearing throughout my childhood whisperings and innuendo of women in sports and marathons and how strongly society felt about how unacceptable women in sports was, etc... PLUS, I held the record in the mile run at my Jr High in the 8th grade - not because it was a great time but
...more
Molly
Apr 23, 2012 Molly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Runners, women, athletes
Shelves: 2012
I had no idea Kathrine Switzer was so average as a runner and achieved so much of her success by sticking to a plan while taking a couple of risks that had just the right fit with her dreams and talents. After reading her memoir I feel like I can run faster if I only apply myself.

I highly recommend this book to any woman involved in endurance sports, even casually. The book gives great insight into how an elite athlete trained before today's group of runners with perfectly formulated, perfectly
...more
Ryan
I really enjoyed hearing Switzer's account of how she worked to integrate running and also to shift the culture of running to view women as competent, legitimate, competitive athletes. This book addresses the topic on personal, cultural, and international levels and it was hard to put down.
Liz Moffat
A great read! Katherine Switzer revolutionised women's running when she ran the Boston Marathon in 1967. She didn't realise it was a men only race, she just knew that to her knowledge no woman had run it before. She entered as K V Switzer and the officials tried to remove her number once they discovered she was a woman.
It is incredible to believe now, but it was felt that women were far too delicate to run 26.2 miles and they would either turn into men or their uterus' would fall out if they att
...more
Ginger
It is really amazing to me how much women of my generation take for granted in their lives. This book is a memoir, but really it is the story of the growth of women's distance running, and KV Switzer's influence.
I loved that her method was not in-your-face loudness, but rather hard work to show what women can accomplish.
Fjola
She is so amazing!! Read this while 40 weeks pregnant, really looking forward to getting back out there now. A truly inspirational story of how women's running was pioneered in the US. This really is a fantastic time to be a female athlete, thanks to people like K Switzer!
Kara
A long but fast moving memoir about persistence and empowerment. I loved reading about Switzer's thinking on the importance/liberty of running fir women in the 1960s and 70s, and the strides she took as a runner and organizer to make it accessible to other women.
Nena
Kathrine's story is definitely inspirational, and I love all that she and the others mentioned in the book have done for women's sports.

I didn't particularly care for some aspects of her writing style. She's very conversational, and often added in bits to remind the reader that the events took place in a different time - for example, reminding the reader that email didn't exist in the 1970s and repeatedly mentioning times she should/could have left her first husband.

The strong point of this boo
...more
Nicole Watson
Aug 03, 2007 Nicole Watson added it
Recommends it for: Runners
This book focused on womens running and how it started and how far it came. I was really inspired by this book because it reminded me of how far women themselves have come in earning their rights and how thankful I am that I can go out and run any race that I want. I was also inspired to go out and finally run a marathon. This book was not the a really deep book but I took more away from it than I ever thought I would. I think I often forget how women have only had certain rights for a little wh ...more
Jocelyn
GREAT read for any woman who used to run, wants to run, is currently a runner, or anywhere in between. A first person account of the history and creation of women's competitive running.
Katja
Fantastisches Buch, das mich gar nicht mehr losgelassen hat. Mir war nicht bewusst, dass Frauen erst seit 1984 Marathon bei Olympia laufen dürfen, weil man vorher der Meinung war, dass diese Distanz zu anstrengend und gefährlich für Frauen wäre. Kathrine Switzer erzählt, wie sie über Jahrzehnte dafür gekämpft hat, die Marathon-Distanz für Frauen zu etablieren - und das offenbar sehr erfolgreich. Motivation pur ist allerdings ihre Beschreibung davon, was Laufen in ihrem eigenen Leben bedeutet und ...more
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Kathrine Switzer is the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entry. She entered and completed the race in 1967, five years before women were officially allowed to compete in it.
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“I could feel my anger dissipating as the miles went by--you can't run and stay mad!” 26 likes
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