First female marathoner

SPORTS EYE - Raffy Uytiepo (The Freeman) - November 24, 2020 - 12:00am

In an ancient Olympics in 776 B.C, only one event was held, the 200-meter race and women were barred from competition. Greek historian Pausanias, however, wrote that “Virgins were allowed to watch the games but the married ones were refused and warned they will be punished and if caught, they will be put to death.  In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a bib number.  Race official Jock Semple tried to rip Switzer’s bib but was pushed by her boyfriend. Switzer finished in 4:20. Then in 1972, the AAU lifted its sanction against women running the distance, thus, allowing eight women including Switzer to finish the 1972 Boston Marathon.  Winner was Nina Kuscsik.  Switzer won the New York City Marathon in 1974, clocking 3:07:29.  I met Switzer in Manila when she came to introduce Avon running. But did you know that when the first Olympics was held in Athens in 1896, a woman named Melpomene petitioned to compete in the marathon but was denied?  Melpomene however ran anyway the 40 kilometers route from Marathon to Athens unofficially and without a race number.  As some of the runners dropped out, Melpomene kept on running a steady pace. Spiridon Louis of Greece finished the race in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds. Later in the afternoon, Melpomene arrived at the stadium but was not allowed to enter, there were no more spectators.  She ran the final lap outside the stadium and finished in 4 hours and 30 minutes. She was the first “bandit” (walay race bib) and first woman to finish a marathon unofficially.

Houston we have a problem

It’s common knowledge that a thief hates a fellow thief.  When Russel Westbrook, a certified ball hog, left Oklahoma to join former teammate James Harden in Houston, a problem appeared.  Harden is the Rockets heart and soul and the NBA’s scoring champion for three consecutive seasons since 2017.  When Harden departed from the Thunder (probably he didn’t like getting competition from Westbrook who sometimes bring the ball, coast to coast).  “Usahay di na makadawat si Harden sa bola”.  But the basketball community was shocked when Harden likewise announced he wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets to unite with his former teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who are also scorers.  I’m sure Durant and Irving won’t allow Harden to hog the ball and do the all scoring.  Harden is perhaps worried of the Rockets future after his coach, Mike D’ Antoni and general manager Daryl Mokey, left Houston.  Not even a $50 million per year contract could bait Harden to consider leaving the Rockets.  Houston however is expecting to get a good deal from interested parties, they couldn’t just give their best player, 2018 MVP of the league in a silver platter. It’s hard to to be in a crocodile’s den. 

NOTES: Katherine Switzer, then 20  years, old was able to enter the Boston Marathon in 1967 because she signed her entry form only as K.V Switzer (organizers thought it was a male runner). Her bib number 261 became famous that there’s an organization called 261 Fearless, a global non-profit she founded.  Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb however holds the distinction to run Boston without a bib.  In the 1966 Boston Marathon, after her application was rejected, Gibb hid and jumped from the bushes at the start and ran anyway, finishing ahead of Switzer.  In the 1980 edition, newcomer, Rosie Ruiz , an American-Cuban, broke the tape in record time.  The men’s winner, Bill Rodgers was suspicious and organizers found out she jumped into the race with just 800 meters to go to clock 2:31:56, third fastest in women’s marathon history.  After officials checked the marshals and other controls, it was found out she cheated and was stripped of his title eight days later.  No wonder she was looking fresh arriving at the finish line (“walay singot”).  Ruiz died last year in Lake Worth, Florida at age 66.

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