Book Review: Marathon Woman

Marathon Woman by Kathrine SwitzerMarathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports
by Kathrine Switzer

Kathrine Switzer is often credited as “the first woman to run the Boston Marathon”. Technically, that isn’t accurate… that woman is Roberta Gibb. (Read this account written by Ms. Gibb about the experience) Kathrine Switzer is the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with an actual bib number… and if you don’t know the story, here it is in a nutshell: She registered for the race using her initials K.V. Switzer, thus no red flags were raised as to her gender. While running, the race directors figured out she was a woman and tried to tackle her off the course. Her boyfriend and another male friend protected her and she finished the race.

The more amazing part of Ms. Switzer’s story is not just limited to that moment (hence the fact that she could fill 448 pages in her autobiography.) The truly amazing thing is to read about how much she did to revolutionize the entire sport of running.

She made a huge stamp on women’s running, tirelessly working to create opportunities for women to be allowed to race and encouraging women to run. Her efforts to get the women’s marathon accepted and recognized as an Olympic sport spanned many years, but the event has been official in the Olympics since 1984.

Beyond the contributions to women’s running, she has also helped shape races into the events that we know and love. She came up with detailed race management plans and organized a whole series of races all over the world for Avon. Those details and strategies are carried throughout several different races, many items are considered commonplace now.

The book was very well written and it was easy to read. Sometimes a runner’s autobiography doesn’t necessarily flow as well as it should/could. Not the case with this one, it’s readable, inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable. It really put it into context for me just how far the sport has come in a relatively short period of time.


  1. I really want to read this book! I didnt even know it existed, but now I am going to have to add it to my “must read” list…which is pretty darn long!

  2. I read this book a couple years ago as I was starting running. I was inspired by her perseverance of training but still living her life (though also looking at it I never understood quite how she did it all and I would have kicked her boyfriend/trainer to the curb). 🙂 Great book though!

    To add to your “to read” list, my friend loaned me Women Who Run which is a collection of stories of women runners. Not bad either. 🙂

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