Thousands of runners participated in today's fourth annual Mankato marathon this morning.
Before taking their marks, all runners got a special message from a marathoner who made history and believes marathons have changed society.
She's ran a total of 39 marathons.
The first woman to run the Boston Marathon, KathrineSwitzer says, "Who'll forget the first one? The Boston Marathon in 1967 when an official tried to throw me out of the race because I was a woman. And how times have changed, now there are more women runners in the United States than there are men."
And has endured different elements with each race along the way.
Switzer says, "I've had just about every experience there is to have."
Running her first marathon over four decades ago, Switzer says running the 26.2 miles gives a person a feeling comparable to nothing else.
Switzer says, "The sense of empowerment and accomplishment is tremendous and that's really why it is so popular. It's not because everyone wants to be an athlete it's that they want to be the hero in their own life."
Accumulating more runners each year, the Mankato Marathon is growing. An increasing number benefiting society.
Switzer says, "Marathon running is one of the best things that has happened to us socially. Men and women running together because we come to regard each other and respect each other in a completely different way. And I'm finding after all these years so gratifying that men have come to respect women's advancement in sports and respect it as mainstream. It's not unusual anymore, and that's all I ever wanted to do."