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Kathrine Switzer finishes Boston Marathon again, 50 years later

Kathrine Switzer averaged 10:51 per mile.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

About a mile into running the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday, Kathrine Switzer realized something.

For the last 50 years, she thought she was about 2 miles into running the 1967 Boston Marathon when Jock Semple, then the race director, tried to rip off her 261 bib number and throw her out of the race.

But on Monday when she ran the stretch of road where the incident happened, it turned out to be about a mile from the starting line.

“Suddenly, it all comes back to life,” Switzer said in a Facebook Live video shared as she ran that now infamous stretch. “It’s much earlier than I remember.


“I always thought it was about 2 miles. So here we go. What a way to start the race.”

Switzer, whose last Boston Marathon was in 1976, ran on Monday to mark the 50th anniversary of becoming the first woman to complete the race with an official bib.

In 1967, Switzer finished in 4 hours, 20 minutes. On Monday, at 70 years old, Switzer finished in 4:44:31, wearing the same bib number — 261.

“It was awesome out there,” she said. “I just hope my good time today wasn’t just because of the tailwind.”

Switzer averaged 10:51 per mile and finished eighth in her age group. (There were 43 women ages 70 and older registered for this year’s marathon.) She said she felt overwhelmingly grateful for the streets of Boston after crossing the finish line.

“It was a race of celebration, and all along people were cheering me,” she told CBS Boston.

The finish capped off a big weekend for Switzer, who ran with 125 charity runners for her 261 Fearless foundation. In addition to holding court at panels and events throughout the weekend, Switzer also held the tape runners break at the Boston Athletic Association Invitational Mile on Saturday and threw out the first pitch at the Red Sox game on Sunday. And on race day, she fired the start gun for the women’s elite field.


At the finish line, she was welcomed by a big crowd, a bundle of yellow roses — “Yellow is my favorite,” she told CBS Boston — and a bit of good news: The BAA will officially retire her 261 bib number.

“It’s testimony to the power of this number, which means fearless around the world now,” she said.

Read more about how Switzer got back into marathoning, what she’s up to now, and where that original 261 bib is.
Elise Amendola/AP

Follow Rachel G. Bowers on Twitter @RachelGBowers.