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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

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,423 ratings  ·  181 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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4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,423 ratings  ·  181 reviews

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Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Amy Moritz
Jul 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Kathy Simpson
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Sep 16, 2008 rated it liked it
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'll just give a review while I am still on p. 236:

This woman was a revolutionary in women's sports. I admire her for it AND others like her. She writes, at times, like she was the only woman who trained and ran like she did. She presents evidence to the contrary, but she continues throughout much of the book to paint a picture of herself
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ari Scott
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a fun read. Kathrine Switzer is one of my heroes. She has an incredible memory, as her breathtaking race recaps from decades ago are more detailed than anything I can tell you about my run from this morning. It was also interesting to read about the ins and outs of race organization. And I’ll admit, her continuous use of “golly” and “gee” was corny at first, but quickly became endearing. By golly, I enjoyed this book.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sadly, this was so poorly written, it was hard to follow at some points. Switzer really needed a good editor. I'm not entirely sure what her point was in this book either. Was it to brag about her own running journey (she does a lot of that)? Describe the path to the women's Olympic marathon (if so, she took a roundabout route for that)? Tell her life story (maybe)? Ultimately, it was disappointing.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
“I could tell that feminism had arrived, at last, at Wellesley. For when the women saw me the cheers became screams and wails and even some aggressive shouts of ‘Come on, sister! Do it! Do it! DO IT!”

I take for granted that I’ve had these words of encouragement ringing in my ears since birth.

I thought reading this book while training for my 4th and 5th marathons would be a good way to get through the upcoming week of monster millage, and I was not wrong. While not particularly well written, Kat
Jun 06, 2016 rated it liked it
An entertaining way to learn about feminism, running, and life in the 1960's-70's overall. It made me grateful for the opportunities I have, and made me want to start running again! It showed me how progress occurs, which felt particularly important right now as the world is going through a lot of difficult issues that we desperately need to make progress on. Most of all, this book reminded me that no person is perfect. While on the outside Kathrine Switzer's life seemed successful and grand, sh ...more
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
such a long way women have come in the last 40 years - sad to know we still have a long way to go -- Not in the running arena (according to Kathrine) but in many aspects of this society. Good to know that our daughters are reading of the activities of those of our generation and the struggles to get to the freedom our daughters enjoy today.
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely LOVED this book. Loved learning about the start of women's running, both with Kathrine's own story and those of other women in the 70s. Such and interesting time and topic. Absolutely loved it.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing, inspiring, emotional. This is a must read for runners, especially those tackling the marathon.
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved inspired me so much (I ended up running my first marathon a year or so after reading it).
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I so often forget what a privileged era I live in, and all the work that had gone on before me so that I can appreciate the advantages that I have. It blows my mind that women were not allowed to complete in many things in the past, including marathons, many times for no other reason than fear that their "fragile bodies" would be damaged, or that they wouldn't be able to reproduce (seriously, a genuine fear was of causing the uterus to detach!), as if that's a woman's only value in life.

While Sw
Hannah Lynch
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book!! Hearing about the start of women’s marathon running while training for a marathon myself is so motivational and inspiring! Kathrine Switzer is a phenomenal story teller as she recounts her experiences in a witty and enjoyable way. I listened to this book mostly on audiobook which I highly recommend as Kathrine herself narrates it, but I also recommend getting the physical book to look at all the photos included! 5 Stars, a must read for all women runners and athlet ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Kathrine Switzer has accomplished amazing feats as both a female long distance runner and promoter of the women’s marathon in the Olympics. As a woman long distance runner, I truly WANTED to enjoy this book. I actually love learning about running and thought reading more history about women in the sport would be engrossing. This book was written in 26.2 chapters, but I’m fairly certain it would’ve been a better 10 chapter one. I knew I had to skim the rest, when I read, “Just the word ‘April’ ma ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
All women runners need to read this book! Whether you run 5k’s, half marathons, or full marathons you should know the journey that it took for women to be welcomed at these events! Big thanks to Katherine and all of the other women mentioned in her book for paving the way!
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
This is one tough woman! And a good memoir writer, too. She wasn't afraid to talk of "women things" like periods or tears, either. Describing the 1971 Boston Marathon:

The women at Wellesley at last were all I had hoped for, and more. In 1967 they were nonexistent, and in 1970, also a cold and miserable rain, they were scarce. Today they were out in force and went absolutely crazy when they saw me. For the first time, I felt the noise of their screaming bounce off my chest; the only time I'd felt
i loved getting switzer's full, gossipy, lively story. she's got a way with narrative, and i was surprised and delighted when she didn't withhold details that really brought the story to life. at one point, she very dryly, "what? there's nothing to see here. i'm not implying anything"-ly mentions -- it's totally off-hand! -- that the man who became her first ex-husband had very, very tiny feet. i guffaw-laughed. and she slipped this in without sounding bitter and catty throughout the rest of the ...more
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Lee D'Anna
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book had been on my "to-read" list so imagine my delight when I found out Kathrine Switzer was going to be the keynote speaker the night before the inaugural Bellin Women's Half Marathon in Green Bay. She was an entertaining speaker and very approachable for book signings and also pre-race, where she mingled among all the runners. I started running in the late 1970's and at that time had no idea that just a decade prior women were not even allowed to run marathons because of (among other re ...more
Elise Smith
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
As a runner who is going to be doing her first full marathon next January I really wanted to read Switzer's story since she is the reason women can register for and participate in races. Believe it or not there was a time when it was considered "dangerous" for women to run. They were told it might make them sterile or their organs might fall out. Switzer ignored this nonsense and was the first woman to officially register for and run the Boston Marathon as a numbered runner with a bib in 1967 (R ...more
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up because Kathrine is going to be the spokeswoman for a race I'm running this spring- nice to get an autograph for a book, right? I knew little of her history other than she is the subject of the iconic 1967 photo of the Boston Marathon runner being accosted by the race director to get out of the race- because she is a woman! who was running!

Before I read this book I had no idea that during my lifetime not only was the women's marathon not an Olympic event, women were not al
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: running
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
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 the 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 wom ...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.
“I could feel my anger dissipating as the miles went by--you can't run and stay mad!” 35 likes
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