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Athletes in Action: reading informational text; Fast and Female 5


Read this article from the fictional magazine Sports Monthly, then answer the practice question.

Fast and Female

Sports Monthly, April 1967
by Marzetta Jacobs
  1. History was made earlier this month as Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon wearing an official number. Judges, however, ruled that she entered the race illegally and disqualified her from the 26.2-mile race.
  2. The Boston Marathon is often considered the country’s most difficult racecourse and has always been open to only male racers. Switzer entered the race using just her initials and was given a bib because officials assumed she was a man. When one official, Jock Semple, realized a woman was running the race, he tried to physically grab the numbers off her shirt.
Race officials try to stop Switzer from participating in the Boston Marathon
  1. Hettie Van Dyke, a spectator at the race, gave an account of the scene. “Right after Kathrine passed us on the sidelines, two race officials screamed at her and demanded that she leave the race. One official even approached her on the road and tried to rip her number off. It was terrible!” Semple was stopped by Switzer’s supporters, who surrounded her, resisted the officials’ efforts, and made sure she was able to finish the race.
  2. Not everyone in the crowd agreed with Ms. Van Dyke. Arnie Wilbur was also watching the race. When asked what he thought of Switzer running, he replied, “Girls shouldn’t be allowed to run with men. They’re not built for it. They’re too slow!”
  3. Mr. Wilbur might be surprised to learn that Switzer finished the race in less than five hours, ahead of many of the men that had entered. When asked why she didn’t quit, Switzer replied, “I knew if I quit, nobody would ever believe that women had the capability to run 26 plus miles . . . If I quit I would set women’s sports back, way back, instead of forward.”
  4. Who knows, maybe Kathrine Switzer is just the first woman of many to compete against men in the Boston Marathon and other races like it. Maybe her contribution will have a permanent effect on future marathons. We’ll have to see how many women show up in the coming years.
Author’s Note: While this article is from an imaginary magazine, the events described and Switzer’s words are real. Although Switzer finished her race in 1967, women weren’t allowed to officially enter the Boston Marathon until nearly five years later in 1972. Since then, hundreds of thousands of women have completed the race over the years.

Practice question

What is different about Hettie Van Dyke’s and Arnie Wilbur’s accounts of the event?
Choose 1 answer: