1st woman to officially run Boston Marathon to do it again 50 years later

(CNN) A 20-year-old Syracuse University journalism student made history in 1967 by becoming the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon.

Now, 50 years later, Kathrine Switzer will return to the Boston Marathon starting line wearing the same number an official tried to rip off her clothing in the 1967 race.

The incident was captured in an iconic photo that turned Switzer into a role model and launched her career as an advocate for women’s equality in sports. Now 70, with 39 marathons under her belt, it will be her first time running the Boston race since 1976 and her first marathon since 2011.

Switzer has said she did not intend to break barriers by entering the race. After all, another woman, Roberta Bingay Gibb, had completed the Boston Marathon the year before without a bib.

But the photo exposed the ugly nature of sexism in sports, thrusting Switzer into the spotlight and altering the course of her life.

‘No dame ever ran the Boston Marathon’

Unlike Gibb, Switzer managed to score a bib by signing up with her initials, K.V. Switzer. As she tells it, there were no official written rules saying only men could enter the race. Nor was there a spot on the entry form to select gender.

But in those days women rarely participated in professional or competitive sports. Even her coach at Syracuse — where Switzer trained with the men’s cross-country team — told her the distance was too long for “fragile women.”

When Switzer completed the 26-mile trial, Briggs insisted she sign up officially. She said she used her initials because her first name was misspelled on her birth certificate, Kathrine, and she was tired of repeating the error. Plus, she said she wanted to be a writer, and using her initials, like J.D. Salinger and e.e. cummings, seemed like a “cool, writerly” thing to do.

Her bib number would come to represent fearlessness in the face of adversity for female runners ever since. The Boston Marathon will retire number 261 in Switzer’s honor after she runs the race on Monday with supporters from around the world.

Switzer said she did not try to hide the fact she was a woman. She wore lipstick, earrings and burgundy shorts, but ended up wearing baggy sweats over her “feminine” running gear because of the wintry weather.

It was snowing by the time she and her teammates reached the starting line in Hopkinton. One of them told her to wipe off her lipstick so organizers would not notice her. She refused and began the race.

A few miles in she saw a man with a felt hat and overcoat in the middle of the road shaking his finger at her as she passed. Then, she heard the sound of leather shoes, a distinctly different noise from the patter of rubber soles, and knew something was wrong.

“Instinctively I jerked my head around quickly and looked square into the most vicious face I’d ever seen. A big man, a huge man, with bared teeth was set to pounce, and before I could react he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back, screaming, ‘Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!'” she wrote in her memoir.

The man was race director Jock Semple. Press photographers captured Semple’s contorted face as he grabbed at Switzer’s numbers while her boyfriend pulled Semple off her.

After escaping the scene she ambled on for a few miles before her anger transformed into energy. She finished the race in four hours and 20 minutes, but would later be disqualified and expelled from the Amateur Athletic Union.

Support soon eclipsed the fallout and she became a celebrity.

‘I could not let fear stop me’

Switzer used her influence to campaign to get women into the Boston Marathon by 1972. She went on to run 39 marathons, winning the New York City Marathon in 1974 and achieving her personal best in 1975, 2:51:33, when she finished second in Boston.

She created the Avon International Running Circuit of women’s-only races in 27 countries, paving the way for the first women’s Olympic marathon in 1984. She became an author and TV commentator for the Olympics, World and National championships before returning to marathons at 64.

“Because I knew if I did that no one would believe women could run distances and deserved to be in the Boston Marathon; they would just think that I was a clown, and that women were barging into events where they had no ability. I was serious about my running and I could not let fear stop me,” she said.

Good Samaritan with a gun saves wounded cop


Youngtown, Arizona (CNN) The gunshot that struck state trooper Ed Andersson was “one in a thousand,” he said.
“A half inch to my right it would have missed me,” the Arizona State Police officer told CNN. “A few inches to my left, it would have hit my vest.”
But the bullet found Andersson’s right shoulder — paralyzing it and preventing him from reaching his own weapon.
At 4:30 in the morning, it was dark and desolate along Interstate 10 near Tonopah, Arizona. The only other person around was the man who just shot Andersson, and an injured female companion.
And the attack wasn’t over.
His gun now empty, the man charged Andersson, striking him with the weapon and bashing his head into the pavement.
“I kicked him into the fast lane hoping that a car would come by and hit him,” Andersson said. But it didn’t work.
Andersson rolled onto his right side, shielding his weapon from the attacker.
“I knew if he got my gun it’d be all over right then,” he said.
It was over. The attacker lay dead in front of him; Andersson was alive.
But who saved him?
A former felon, he would later learn. A man who turned his life around and found God. A lifelong hunter who begged a judge to reinstate his rights, allowing him to carry a gun again — the one he just fired.
A man who is now Andersson’s friend for life.
‘God … put me in that place’
Thomas Yoxall woke the morning of January 12th thinking he’d be taking pictures by the end of the day.
The photographer was headed for a conference in Anaheim, California, and had just began the five-hour drive along I-10 when a patrol car sped past him.
“I was thinking, not a good way to start the morning with someone getting pulled over,” Yoxall said.
The flashing lights faded into the foreground as Thomas took a sip of his morning coffee.
The lights re-emerged, though, as Thomas approached mile marker 84.
Trooper Andersson hadn’t pulled anyone over. He was responding to calls of a man shooting his weapon at cars on the highway. As he arrived he spotted an overturned vehicle just off the roadway, and two potential victims along the shoulder. A female passenger had been thrown from the car.
“I saw a male subject kneeling and holding a female in his arms,” Andersson said. So he blocked the slow lane with his car, set out flares and called for a medical helicopter.
When he returned to the victim, the man was missing.
“I scan with my flashlight and I found him standing in the emergency lane,” Andersson said. “I could tell he already had his weapon pointed at me.”
The man wasn’t a victim at all. He was the shooter who motorists were reporting to police. And lucky for Andersson, he was down to his last bullet — the same one he plunged into Andersson’s right shoulder before he punched Andersson to the ground.
“I would try to get my Taser out,” Andersson said. “But every time I would do that, he would strike me in the head, and pound my head on the pavement.”
That’s when Thomas Yoxall drove by the scene, seeing the man on top of Andersson.
“He’s beating him in a savage way,” Yoxall said. “Just fist after fist.”
Yoxall pulled over, took his legal firearm from the center console of his pickup and exited onto the highway.
“I yell out to the suspect to stop, I said ‘get off him!'” Yoxall said. “His facial expression, the look in his eye (was) ‘evil’ if I had to put a word on it.”
The suspect refused to stop, continuing to beat Andersson.
“I hear a voice… ask me if I needed help,” Andersson recalled. “I said ‘yes, I do.’
Yoxall says he moved to his left, assuring that Andersson was not in the line of fire.
The attacker resumed his brutal assault as Andersson bled from his head.
“The next thing I hear is two shots,” Andersson said.
The first struck the man in the chest; the second, in the head.
The threat was over. The attacker, later identified as 37-year-old Leonard Penuelas-Escobar, was dead.
Investigators are awaiting toxicology results to determine if drugs were a factor in the attack.
A chopper Andersson had called to transport an accident victim instead airlifted him to the hospital.
After surgery and more than 100 stitches and staples, doctors stabilized him.
From his hospital bed, Andersson realized he’d likely be dead if not for Thomas Yoxall.
“As much as I fought, at one point I probably couldn’t have gone on anymore,” Andersson said as his emotions swelled. “I probably wouldn’t be here (if not for him).”
If the attack had happened two decades ago — it may have ended differently.
That’s when Yoxall was, by his own admission, a different man.
“People who know me best know I’ve come full circle in my life,” Yoxall said.
Yoxall was charged with theft in 2000; the felony case prevented the avid hunter and shooter from carrying a gun. But when the case was pleaded down to a misdemeanor in 2003, Yoxall said, it allowed him to petition the judge to reinstate his gun rights. They were granted, and Yoxall has carried his firearm ever since.
“God chose to put me in that place at that particular moment,” Yoxall said of the roadside encounter that saved Andersson. “I just can’t see an evil like that perpetuated without intervening.”
With Andersson’s arm in a sling, he still finds a way to embrace Yoxall each time they meet. In the weeks that followed the shooting, the pair have met a handful of times, forging what they say is “always going to be a bond.”
“And not just between me and him,” Andersson said. “But between my family and him, too.”
Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said the incident shows what can happen when citizens and law enforcement work together.
“Thomas didn’t help Ed out based on whose side he was on. He did it because it was a gut instinct that told him he needed to get involved,” Milstead said. “It’s beautiful, it’s pure.”
Andersson recognizes that lives were lost that day (the female passenger in the overturned vehicle also died), but he hopes people won’t judge Yoxall for pulling the trigger.
“I hope people understand that he had to do what he had to do to save somebody else’s life,” Andersson said. “Getting involved isn’t a bad thing, even if it’s just stopping to call 911.”
Yoxall said he has no regrets, but admits it’s “hard to relive sometimes.”
“No member of our law enforcement should have to be in that situation of fear and being alone with nobody responding,” he said.
In this case, Andersson wasn’t alone for long. The encounter lasted only minutes, but Yoxall’s actions will be felt for life.
“I get to see my grand kids grow up, my daughters get married eventually,” Andersson said. “He did a fabulous thing.”