- | SPORTMUSEUM
Kathrine Switzer and Roger Robinson visit the Berlin Sports Museum – AIMS Marathon Museum of Running – An icon of the marathon and running scene finds her history. A report by Horst Milde
On Tuesday, May 25, 2010, a legend in the history of the women’s marathon visited the “Marathon Museum” in the Berlin Olympic Park, together with her husband Roger Robinson. Kathrine Switzer wrote marathon history on April 19, 1967, when she signed up for the Boston Marathon under the initials K.V. Switzer and became the first woman, albeit incognito, to run the race that was only open to men, protected by marathon runner Arnie Briggs and her friend Tom, a hammer thrower.
When the organiser of the event, Jock Semple, found out that there was a woman running in his marathon, he jumped off of the press vehicle and tried to tear off her race number. Tom put Jock Semple out of commission with one punch—an action that was captured by a photographer, with the photos making headlines around the world.
Kathrine Switzer crossed the finish line in Boston in 4:20:00, proving that women can run the marathon too. This series of photos from the 1967 Boston Marathon are also on display in the AIMS exhibition in the Lichthof in the Haus des Deutschen Sports. Kathrine Switzer also found another photo of her in the AIMS exhibition.
She is seen running here with Horst Milde in the Berlin Tiergarten park in 1984. They first met in 1983 at the New York City Marathon, where Kathrine Switzer was coordinating women’s races for the US cosmetics company, AVON. She helped the race director of the Berlin Marathon, Horst Milde, organise the 1st AVON Women’s Run in the Tiergarten on May 31, 1984, together with the sponsor, AVON. Today this is Germany’s largest women’s race.
Kathrine Switzer continued her athletic career with a victory and time of 3:07:29 at the New York City Marathon on September 29, 1974, and at the Boston Marathon in 1975, she finished second with a time of 2:51:37, behind Liane Winter (Wolfsburg/Germany), who set a new world best time for women in 2:42:24.
Kathrine Switzer was born on January 5, 1947 in Amberg/Bavaria, as the daughter of a US soldier. Her mother employed a German nanny for her, who helped raise her. After her visit to the Sports Museum on Tuesday, she travelled to Senftenberg, where this nanny was celebrating her 90th birthday on Wednesday.
On Sunday, May 30, 2010, she was once again an honorary guest in Vienna, at the Austrian Women’s Run. Kathrine Switzer has written numerous books, which have been published in German too, and she has been influential in developing races for women; she influenced the decision by the IOC in 1981 to include the women’s marathon in the Olympics (in 1984). She now shares her time between New Zealand and the USA.
Her husband, Roger Robinson, has a marathon connection too, of course: he has represented both England and New Zealand as a runner. He ran a time of 2:18:44 at age 41, he holds several Masters records, and he ran 2:28:01 as a 50-year-old. He is known as an author of several books for which he has achieved international acclaim, he works as a TV commentator, and he writes for reputable running magazines such as Running Times. His specialties are history and literature, with an emphasis on the significance of running:
Outstanding Journalism Award - "Excellence in Running Journalism Award, 2009" by the Road Runners' Club of America for Roger Robinson
The directors of the Berlin Sports Museum, Martina Behrendt and Gerd Steins, guided both running enthusiasts through the exhibition and the archives. The collection of AIMS history was especially interesting for them, as it includes a collection from Dr. David Martin/Atlanta on the development of the AVON women’s races. This includes historical original correspondence, posters, medals, and other rare artefacts from the history of the AVON races, which Dr. David Martin donated to the Museum.
Kathrine Switzer and Roger Robinson were very impressed by the amazing volume of the “treasures” in the museum’s collection, which was much greater than they had anticipated. Kathrine Switzer presented her newest book to the museum library, with a dedication, of course. As she noted, she of course had a “basement full” of important running artefacts, which she would later make available to the museum. Roger Robinson stated, “We are overwhelmed by this museum, by the extent and importance of this extraordinary collection.”
Kathrine Switzer has been a member of the AIMS Board since 1982—thus long connected with the world’s marathon and running organisation. Both of them will be joining the festivities surrounding the 2500th anniversary of the marathon at the 28th Athens Classic Marathon on October 31, together with a 700-strong running group from the USA, during the 18th AIMS World Congress.
The AVON Women’s Run collection in the Berlin Sports Museum - AIMS Marathon Museum of Running - A Donation by Dr. David Martin (Atlanta, Georgia/USA):
A Running book by Kathrine Switzer & Roger Robinson;