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Famous Female Runners from Around the World

Famous Female Runners from Around the World

It may seem hard to believe, but women's presence in the world of running is relatively new.  Women were not even permitted to enroll in the Boston Marathon until the 1970s!

From sprinters to long-distance runners, below, we pay tribute to some famous female runners who have inspired the world.

Katherine Switzer

Katherine Switzer is a pioneer of women runners as she paved the way for females to be permitted to register for the Boston Marathon. In 1967, when women weren't allowed to participate, she registered using her initials – K.V. Switzer – to disguise her gender. As she was the only woman in a sea of men, she was quickly spotted, and attempts were made to remove her. Jock Semple, the marathon director, ran after her and screamed, "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!" She steered clear of the naysayers and crossed the finish line. In 1973, the Boston Marathon officially allowed women to register for the race, and Switzer went on to run 35 other marathons and won the New York City marathon in 1974.

Allyson Michelle Felix

At the age of only 18, Felix traveled to Athens to represent the United States in the 2004 Summer Olympics. There, she won her first silver medal, and in 2005, she became the youngest female runner to compete in the World Championships. In 2007, Felix became the second woman to win three gold medals at a single World Championships. In 2012, she won three gold medals at the Summer Olympics, which earned her the title of the most decorated gold medal winner at a single Olympics for her event since 1988.

Fanny Blankers-Koen

Dubbed 'the Flying Housewife,' Blankers-Koen played a crucial role in earning women a spot in sports. In 1948, the Dutch women won four gold medals at the Summer Olympics in London, when women were sharply criticized for participating in athletics. At 30-years-old, she won five European titles and 58 Dutch championships. She also set or tied 12 world records. In 1955, Blankers-Koen retired from athletics and took on the captain's role for the Dutch female track and field team.

Sophie Power

The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) is famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) for being one of the most challenging running events in the world. Sophie Power, a 26-year-old mother, completed the incredibly demanding course, which features 10,040 miles of elevation (more than the equivalent of hiking up Mount Everest from sea-level) within the 46-hour time limit; even more impressively, she completed the feat while breastfeeding her young son. During the race, Power stopped at the aid stations to nurse her baby. She proved to mothers around the world that it is possible to fulfill your dreams while also meeting your children's needs.


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