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Kathrine Switzer defied authorities to run the Boston Marathon when it was a men-only event, triggering a revolution in women’s sport. Now, at 70, she is about to run it again together with women she has inspired, including Rachel Smalley.
It was the word "incident" that jumped out at me.
It was May 2013 and I was hosting TV3's morning news programme, Firstline, and scanning my Twitter feed during a commercial break when news broke of an incident at the Boston Marathon.
I felt a surge of adrenalin followed almost immediately by a sense of foreboding. I knew what "incident" meant. It meant trauma. It's a term news agencies often use when they're still trying to determine the facts in a major, developing news story.
Was it a shooting? Or a bomb? I snatched another glance at Twitter and saw a tweet from the Boston Globe saying there had been two explosions.
For the next three hours we covered the story. The footage from the finish line was grim. Two bombs. Three fatalities. Hundreds injured. Many had lost limbs. Charred metal. Blood. Clothing strewn across the road. It was clear this was a terrorist attack but those responsible were still at large.
I interviewed emergency workers, race officials, politicians, eye-witnesses and runners, and many with less than a minute's notice. Then, as we entered our third hour of broadcasting, my earpiece crackled into life again.
"Got her!" my boss said. "We've got Kathrine Switzer. She's coming to you in 30 seconds."
Switzer. Who was Switzer? I rolled the name around in my head. I couldn't place it.
I typed her name into the search engine. Of course. Kathrine Switzer had run the Boston Marathon in 1967 when it was a men-only event. Officials tried to drag her from the course and Boston, on some level, had been linked with Switzer's name ever since.
On-air, Switzer was professional. She had been part of the race commentary team for five hours and had just returned to her hotel room when the bombs went off. She saw the aftermath of the attack and it showed in her face. She was ashen and struggled at times to find context in what she'd seen unfold around her.
"I saw it go from a scene of pure joy and people wearing medals and taking selfies ... to a scene of complete and utter bewilderment and panic."
She spoke of heavily-armed Swat teams arriving by truck and men leaping on to the street, clasping M4s. That was four years ago, and as I speak to Switzer today, she is still struggling to accept what happened in 2013.
"It was as if the city was being hi-jacked . . . which I guess it was really."
What Switzer could never have known was that in 2017, at the age of 70, she would again run the Boston Marathon. And as I sat in the Auckland studio interviewing her that day, what I could never have foreseen was that six months later I would buy my first pair of running shoes, and I too would be lining up alongside her.
Kathrine Switzer was 19 and studying journalism at Syracuse University in New York. There was no women's running team so she tagged along with the men and their coach, Arnie Briggs. Briggs was 50 and a veteran of 15 Boston Marathons.
"He used to cajole me through tough evening sessions by telling me stories of famous Bostons. I loved listening to them until this one night when I snapped and said, 'Let's quit talking about the Boston Marathon and run the damn thing'."
"No." Briggs said. "No woman can run the Boston Marathon."
"Why not?" Switzer asked. "I'm already running 10 miles a night."
Briggs said it was a widely accepted theory that women were too frail to run such a long distance.
"If any woman can do it, you can," he said. "But you'll have to prove it to me first. If you run the distance in practise, I'll take you to Boston."
It was a no-brainer. Three weeks before the Boston Marathon, Switzer ran the distance alongside her coach. In fact, she suggested the 26 mile distance was too easy, and insisted Briggs run another five miles with her. He did, and then passed out at the finish.