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I was all set to write about the first major clay court event of the tennis season for men, the Monte Carlo Masters.

After all, I love tennis, especially on clay courts, and it’s time to switch gears and themes for this blog as lately tennis has gotten short shrift!

But I forgot today is also the Boston Marathon and the 50th anniversary of Kathrine Switzer becoming the first woman officially to enter what for long-distance runners is the equivalent of Wimbledon.

Kathrine was not supposed to enter, and the Boston Marathon director tried to grab her race bib and pull her off the course.

She escaped him, though, and today, at age 70, she finished her 40th marathon, nine of which have been in Boston.

Her courage also launched a lifelong career as a champion of long-distance running for women. She organized races, became an author, TV commentator, and a celebrity.

Not bad for someone whose college coach told her that marathons were too long a distance for “fragile women.”

In the interest of Six Degrees of Separation, Kathrine studied journalism at Syracuse University as did the author of this blog.

When I became a serious runner, I was in my 30s. I joined a gay running group in Baltimore because I was having no luck with the dating scene. Having made the major decision to come out of the closet, I hit all kinds of roadblocks trying to meet someone!

As always, sports came to the rescue. I heard about the Baltimore Frontrunners and after my first training run of five miles with the group, I suddenly had many new friends!

A couple years and marathons later, though, I started running with the Baltimore Pacemakers. As far as I know, I was the only openly gay guy, but friends are friends, and I became a good runner.

I’m relieved we live in an age where Kathrine would no longer be pulled off a marathon course because she is a woman, nor would any openly gay person. At least I hope we won’t regress as a nation. Sports transcends boundaries and differences, be they gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age.

I’m thrilled for Kathrine. The Boston Marathon will retire her original bib number in her honor. Fifty years ago, she ran like she deserved to be invited to the party. She refused to be thrown out. She held her ground, and now that ground, all 26.2 miles, has been completed by millions of women.

 

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