Previous “Ass Kickers” posts

Dr. Mary-Claire King Kicks Ass 

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Dr. Mary-Claire King has had an incredible career in science and human rights. However, even in her extraordinary life, the first week of April, 1981 must stand out. She narrates the events of that week, and it’s quite a ride, one which even features a special celebrity guest appearance.


Monday, April 24th, 2017

In 1967, when the Boston Marathon was only open to men, Kathrine Switzer registered for it under the name “K.V. Switzer”. Despite a now-infamous attempt by race organizer Jock Semple to pull her out of the race, Switzer finished her run and became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with an official race bib, numbered 261.1 Her actions that day, and for years to follow, paved the way for women in both running and athletics in general.2

Jock Semple accosting Kathrine Switzer mid-race in 1967
[Photo credit: Boston Herald via Runner’s World]

This year, Switzer returned to Boston to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of her first run. The race has grown by almost two orders of magnitude since 1967, and it now includes not just a women’s division, but divisions for push rim wheelchairs, visually impaired/blind runners, and those who are mobility impaired. Switzer helped lead the way for all of this. She’s now 70 years old, but in addition to throwing out the first pitch for the Red Sox game on Sunday and signaling the start of the women’s elite race on Monday, she also found time to actually run the marathon again.

She did so while again wearing her very first number: 261.

Switzer completing the 2017 Boston Marathon
[Photo credit: Elise Amendola/AP via Boston Globe]

That number will now be retired. No one else will ever wear number 261 in the Boston Marathon, and that’s just right.


  1. A year earlier, Bobbi Gibb ran the Boston Marathon unofficially, marking her as the first woman to complete the race. She should certainly not be overlooked. In fact, Gibb is a three-time champion, with the Boston Athletic Association retroactively honoring her as the women’s race winner for the years 1966, 1967, and 1968. Let there be no doubt that Bobbi Gibb kicks ass too.↩︎

  2. This post might just as easily be called “Kathrine Switzer Kicks Ass”, to make it clear that it’s part of that illustrious collection. ↩︎

Cindy Stowell Kicks Ass 

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Before Cindy Stowell passed away from cancer on December 5th, she was a contestant on Jeopardy. While Stowell is no longer with us, her pre-taped episodes of the game show are now airing on television, and she’s currently running an impressive six-game win streak. Stowell’s illness wasn’t known to her competition, but the fates seem to have been aware. Stowell has racked up multiple come-from-behind wins in the Final Jeopardy round, and her earnings now total over $100,000. The best part? Stowell dictated that all of her winnings be donated to cancer-related charities.

Sooner or later, someone is going to defeat Cindy Stowell1, but she’ll always be an ass kicker, and a hell of a champion.

Previously in Female Competitors Kicking Ass: Becca Pizzi Kicks Ass


  1. And how lousy do they feel right about now? ↩︎

Becca Pizzi Kicks Ass 

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

At the end of January, Becca Pizzi completed seven marathons, in seven days, on seven continents. She also won them all.

Previously in Female Athletes Kicking Ass: Katie Ledecky Kicks Ass

Katie Ledecky Kicks Ass 

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Brian Phillips’ column is about Katie Ledecky. It has a simple thesis. The thesis is that Katie Ledecky kicks ass.

Previously in Female Athletes Kicking Ass: Kacy Catanzaro Kicks Ass

Kacy Catanzaro Kicks Ass 

Friday, July 18th, 2014

If you’ve got seven and a half minutes and want to see something ridiculously awesome and inspirational, watch this video of Kacy Catanzaro beating the crap out of the “American Ninja Warrior” obstacle course.1 As the link notes:

Don’t worry, you don’t have to have seen American Ninja Warrior before to enjoy this clip. The insane difficulty will be instantly evident.

If you can watch the ring toss section and not be impressed, well, I don’t even know what to say to you. For more on Catanzaro, Vulture also has a brief interview.


  1. The video is archived here. ↩︎