Aside from watching our favorite teams gets defeated, one of the most agonizing sights for sports fans is a show of bad sportsmanship. Those tantrum-like behaviors have made our game-viewing experiences less enjoyable, and unfortunately, they’re more common than we’d like to acknowledge. Yet as awful as some of these incidents have been, one infamous event will forever trump all others.

Though the notorious moment occurred decades ago, its effects still linger in the hearts and minds of female athletes everywhere. Thankfully, the victim of this terrible happening only grew stronger as a result, and what she’s doing today to remedy the past proves, yet again, that women are capable of anything.

It all started back in 1897 — the Boston Marathon, that is. It’s the oldest and most well-known marathon in the world. Initially run by just 15 participants, the 26-mile race is now attended by over 30,000 runners each year.

Yet while nearly half of all marathon participants today are women, it wasn’t too long ago that the event was completely male-dominated. In fact, at one point in time, women were actually forbidden from competing in the Boston Marathon!

Outside Magazine

But women runners wouldn’t be deterred by this ban, and in 1966, Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb became the first woman to complete the marathon. However, Gibb ran unregistered, and so the Boston Athletic Association refused to acknowledge her achievement.

With the BAA standing firm on its decision to block them from competing, many women runners believed they’d never get the opportunity to race alongside men — that is, until Kathrine Switzer came along.

A talented runner from Syracuse University, Switzer had spent years running with the men’s cross country team, though the thought of competing in the Boston Marathon had rarely crossed her mind. But after her coach remarked that women were “too fragile” to run the race, she immediately resolved to do just that.

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Unlike her predecessor, however, Switzer was determined to not only run the race, but to be an official entrant as well. And thanks to a clerical error – Switzer had registered under her initials, “K.V. Switzer” — the 20-year-old was officially entered as racer 261.

Yet despite being a legitimate entrant, race officials were not pleased with Switzer’s presence and attempted to convince her to stop running. But when their pleas failed to halt the determined college student, one official by the name of Jock Semple took matters into his own hands…literally.

As Switzer ran the course, Semple burst from the crowd and attempted to physically remove her from the race. “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” he reportedly shouted as he grabbed at her.

Luckily, Switzer’s boyfriend at the time was running beside her and immediately went for Semple. The 235-pound ex-All American made short work of the official, tossing him to the pavement and allowing Switzer to continue the race.

The Washington Post

Following the incident, other male runners began jogging alongside Switzer, forming a protective barrier to prevent any other officials from interfering. Switzer finished the race with a time of four hours and twenty minutes, making her the first woman to officially complete the Boston Marathon.

Kathrine Switzer

“I knew if I quit, nobody would ever believe that women had the capability to run 26-plus miles,” Switzer later said. “If I quit, everybody would say it was a publicity stunt. If I quit, it would set women’s sports back, way back, instead of forward. If I quit, I’d never run Boston. If I quit, Jock Semple and all those like him would win.”

But this accomplishment wasn’t without controversy, as many officials believed that Switzer had deliberately deceived them by registering under her initials. The 20-year-old denied these claims, however, stating that she’d used her initials in the past to sign all of her college essays.

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Still, the BAA wasn’t happy, and director Will Cloney didn’t mince words when asked about Switzer’s run: “Women can’t run in the Marathon because the rules forbid it… I don’t make the rules, but I try to carry them out. We have no space in the Marathon for any unauthorized person, even a man.”

Because of Switzer’s participation in the marathon, the Amateur Athletic Union decided to bar women from all future competitions with male runners. And for those who violated the ban, even races solely for women would be off limits as well.

ABC News

Switzer and many other runners began pushing to lift this new ban, but the BAA just wouldn’t budge. They continued to work and petition for the next five years until finally, in 1972, women were finally given the right to compete in the Boston Marathon for good.

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Though Switzer never went on to win the marathon after the ban was lifted, she did win the New York City Marathon in 1974 with a time of three hours and seven minutes. Three years later, she was named Female Runner of the Decade by Runner’s World Magazine.

More than 50 years after her historic run, Switzer still remains a prominent figure in the world of running and women’s rights. The 72-year-old has worked tirelessly to empower and inspire women runners across the globe, and in 2011, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her efforts.

New York Post

Switzer also launched her own non-profit in 2015 — called 261 Fearless — to help women embrace running and healthy living as a means to overcome life’s obstacles. She regularly joins members of her non-profit in the Boston Marathon and ran alongside 13,700 women in 2017 alone.

Endurance Sportswire

This particular year also marked the 50th anniversary of Switzer’s first run, and the BAA chose to commemorate the event by retiring race number 261 for good. But despite all the recognition and accolades, helping women reach their potential has always been Switzer’s greatest joy.

Canadian Running Magazine

“When I go to the Boston Marathon now, I have wet shoulders — women fall into my arms crying,” she told The Nation in 2013. “They’re weeping for joy because running has changed their lives. They feel they can do anything.”

Women surely can do anything, and more and more girls are proving that in the world of sports. But while there are plenty of athletic kids out there, none can hold a candle to “Irongirl” Winter Vinecki, whose entire life’s mission was made possible by Switzer’s bold move.

Team Winter / Facebook

By the age of five, Winter was already competing in adult marathons, and by nine she was ready to test her limits in her first Olympic-distance race. Many believed that Winter was too young to compete — until she finished the marathon in just four hours.

Staying healthy and pushing herself past her limits were always the driving factors behind Winter’s desire to compete, and through her success she hoped to inspire other kids to do the same. But all that changed in 2009 when tragedy befell Winter and her family.

Just ten short months after his diagnosis, Winter’s father, Michael, passed away from prostate cancer. Winter was heartbroken over the loss of her father, but instead of letting her sadness consume her she decided to transform her grief into something truly incredible.

ESPN

With the help of her family, the young runner founded Team Winter, a non-profit dedicated to raising funds for prostate cancer research and awareness. She began actively touring the U.S. on behalf of this mission, speaking in front of large crowds in memory of her father.

Winter Vinecki

Winter even worked to promote her foundation while training and competing in her races. Rain or shine, she could be always found at her Team Winter booth before every marathon, promoting her cause as furiously as she raced.

Winter Vinecki

As the years went on, Winter found great success in both of these areas of her life, becoming a back-to-back IronKids National Triathlon champion in 2010 and 2011 and raising over $400k toward prostate cancer research. Yet even with so much accomplished, Winter was still dreaming bigger.

In early 2012, Winter decided to honor her father’s memory in the only way she knew how — by running. And it wouldn’t be just one marathon: it’d be seven — one on every continent on Earth!

Park Record

The prospect of running a full marathon on all seven continents was surely a difficult one, and even some of the world’s most experienced runners wouldn’t dare perform such a feat. But with Michael’s memory fueling her, Winter was confident she would succeed — and do it all before her 15th birthday.

ESPN

“My goal is to be the youngest person in the world to complete a marathon on every continent before I turn 15, to honor not only my dad but the one in six men affected by prostate cancer,” Winter told CNN.

Winter Vinecki

And so, in April 2012, Winter took the first step on her seven-continent journey by competing in Oregon’s Eugene Marathon. She placed fourth in her age group with a time of 3:45:04, which would stand as her fastest marathon time to date.

Team Winter / Facebook

Next came Africa, where she participated in the Amazing Maasai Marathon in Kenya, just miles from Lake Victoria. And while Winter had run on treacherous terrain before, she admitted to needing a little extra encouragement in order to conquer the hilly landscape.

Team Winter / Facebook

“One of my favorite memories from Kenya was when I was running up the steepest hill and these two little boys, maybe around 6 years old, started running beside me,” Winter told Statesman Journal. “It was that extra motivation I needed to get up the hill and finish the race.”

Team Winter / Facebook

Winter went on to place third in the marathon, though she had little time to rest before the third leg of her journey. Sure, the transition from Oregon to Kenya was no walk in the park, but no amount of training could truly prepare her for what came next: Antarctica.

Team Winter / Facebook

The 2013 Antarctica Marathon saw Winter run 26.2 miles across the frigid, icy landscape of the Antarctic continent. Even after slipping on a patch of ice, Winter finished third in the women’s competition and became the youngest person to ever complete a marathon on Antarctica.

The Huffington Post

Winter was almost halfway to her goal, but through all the joys and struggles of her mission, she never lost sight of why she was running in the first place. And no matter how far from home her journey took her, she knew that her father was always running beside her.

The Clymb

“The main goal is to take my dad to the places he never got to go and also to spread prostate cancer awareness,” said Winter. “I plan on showing my dad all these amazing places he never got to see. He is with me wherever I go, and you can bet he is by my side every step of the way as I conquer every continent, 26.2 miles at a time.”

Winter Vinecki / Facebook

Next up for Winter was South America’s Inca Trail Marathon, known by many as one of the toughest in the world. The trail – which ends in the legendary lost city of Machu Picchu – typically takes three days to hike. Winter did it in less than one.

Statesman Journal

After navigating a 13,000-foot mountain pass through rain and snow and dodging all manner of local wildlife, Winter finished the race in just 9 hours, placing first overall for the first time on her journey. The win felt good, but Winter knew she couldn’t stop now.

Statesman Journal

A plane ride halfway across the globe set the stage for Winter’s next race, which was the Sunrise to Sunset Marathon in Mongolia. Traversing perilous mountain peaks, dense woodlands, and windswept valleys, Winter finished the marathon in second place.

Statesman Journal

The sixth stop on her journey was Australia, but unfortunately for Winter, there were no marathons being held that allowed a 14-year-old to compete. She looked to New Zealand for a remedy, and after running in the Wharf to Wharf marathon, she officially checked Oceania off her list.

Team Winter / Facebook

By this time, the months of nonstop travel and training began to take a toll on Winter’s physical and mental health. But with her goal of completing a marathon on every continent just within reach, Winter wasn’t ready to give up.

Team Winter / Facebook

“The travel has been the hardest thing and that makes the whole thing pretty tiring and hard to keep up with the training but I can’t complain, it has been an incredible journey,” Winter told NZ Herald. “It will be a surreal feeling when it is all over with my last marathon in Athens.”

Team Winter / Facebook

At last, in November 2013, Winter arrived in Athens to compete in her final race, the Athens Classic Marathon. The tour traced the original run of Pheidippides, the legendary courier who inspired the concept of the marathon.

Statesman Journal

With a time of 4:03:53, Winter crossed the finish line and officially became the youngest person in the world to complete a marathon on all seven continents. As Winter basked in the pride of her accomplishment, she raised a finger skyward and exclaimed, “this is for you, Dad!”

Statesman Journal

Michael had no doubt been by his daughter’s side throughout her journey, but there was also another that ran beside Winter: her mother. From Oregon to Athens, Winter’s mother, Dawn, had run every single race alongside her, making them the first mother-daughter duo to complete the feat as well.

Statesman Journal

A runner herself, Dawn’s mission was more than just about breaking records: it was about empathizing with her daughter. After all, while Winter may have lost a father, Dawn had lost her husband and best friend.

Statesman Journal

“I also want to show her that I, too, could do anything I put my mind to and that I can be a full-time mom, a full-time dad, a full-time physician and still train and run seven marathons in 18 months at age 45,” Dawn told Yahoo! News.

Outside Online

It was now late 2013, and Winter, having officially completed her goal and taken her place in the record books, was finally free to return to a normal life. But Winter, as we know, was anything but normal, and the end to this adventure opened the door for her to pursue her second passion: aerial skiing.

Winter Vinecki / Facebook

With her childhood spent between Michigan and Oregon, taking up skiing seemed a natural next step for young Winter, who at age four strapped on her first pair of skis. Her time on the slopes was casual at first, but in 2011 she began training professionally after Olympic aerialist Emily Cook encouraged her to do so.

Winter Vinecki

“Skiing is a huge part of our family, and I’ve always had a love for it. I don’t want to get burned out on running and think it’s good to cross train, so when I got the opportunity to do aerial freestyle skiing, I took it,” Winter told Statesman Journal.

Winter Vinecki / Facebook

Amazingly, Winter was as good a skier as she was a runner, and at one point she even qualified for the FIS Junior World Ski Championships and the Sprint Freestyle U.S. Championships. However, the tournaments were scheduled during her marathon tour and she was forced to give up her spots.

Winter Vinecki / Facebook

Now that her seven-continent journey was behind her, Winter set her sights on the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. And after only a few years spent with the U.S. Freestyle Junior Worlds Team, 19-year-old Winter was named to the U.S. Olympic Ski team. But her Olympic dreams were not to be.

Winter Vinecki / Facebook

During a qualifying run, Winter tore her ACL and was forced to withdraw from PyeongChang. She continues to recover from her injury and hopes to compete in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Winter Vinecki / Facebook

“My timeline has now changed, but my goals have not,” the iron girl wrote in a social media post addressing her injury. “So, it’s not over. Stay tuned and never give in.”

Winter Vinecki / Facebook