I once wore a purple Sparkle Athletic skirt at a local 5k years ago, which felt odd when I had first arrived. At a runDisney race? It would have blended right in and if anything, I’d be under-dressed. But there, I stuck out like a sparkly thumb. My insecurity doubled when I saw two women staring at my skirt, their shoulders pressed together as they whispered to each other with eyebrows raised. For a second, I considered taking it off and shoving it in my gear bag.
But instead, I got annoyed.
I mean, honestly. What was the big deal? Why did they care about what I was wearing? My best guess is because a sparkle skirt wasn’t traditional running gear worn by real runners and a real running event.
But here’s the thing.
Any woman who craves ‘traditional’ running best get their sweet tushes back on the sidelines so the menfolk can run because THAT’S what ‘traditional’ racing was like.
Yeah, that was a tad harsh. But it’s bothersome when female runners criticize other female runners over such things as run/walk intervals, what they wear, or what they look like. Have they forgotten there was a time when women weren’t even allowed on certain race courses, when whether or not they were a fan of walk breaks didn’t even matter? Haven’t they seen this picture before?
This is from the 1967 Boston Marathon, when Kathrine Switzer registered using her first and middle initials, since women weren’t allowed to participate until 1972. Only two miles into the race, an official hopped off a truck and tried to physically remove her from the course.
Image that for a moment.
An angry man trying to remove you from the course. Not because you’re doing intervals, not because you do or do not have a typical runner’s body, and not because you’re wearing a sparkly skirt. But because you’re a woman. This photo will always astound me. It’s a great reminder of what running truly should be, an event for everyone, regardless of their pace, race, size, training methods, goal intentions, or gender.
So I was very happy to see how today’s topic for the Tuesdays on the Run Blog Link up that’s hosted by My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs is Let’s Talk Boston Marathon in celebration to Kathrine Switzer’s return to the Boston Marathon, fifty years later.
What an inspiration!
So gals, let’s be kind to each other. (You, too, guys.) Let’s be kind and support each other regardless of our differences.
And if you’d like to hear some more inspiration, watch this video with Julia Chase, the first woman to compete in the Manchester Road Race. In 1961, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) banned women from competing officially in all United State road races. Julia was 19 when she entered the 6.5-mile road race in Chicopee, Massachusetts as a way to challenge this ban.
Dicks Sporting Goods Running: Julia Chase from Greenpoint Pictures on Vimeo.
In 2011, Julia also returned the the Manchester Road Race fifty years after her historic run.
Now that’s awesome.
So I will be tuning into the 2017 Boston Marathon on April 17th, cheering on Kathrine Switzer, every woman, every man, and every single runner. Best of luck to you all!
Have you read Amby Burfoot’s book, First Ladies of Running? I read it before Tink last year and loved every page.
I need to add that to my list, thanks for the recommendation! Not running related, I did a ton of research about the history of women’s baseball for a novel and found that to be absolutely fascinating.