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Running Brave with Kathrine Switzer


“Bravery builds bravery. So when you do one brave act, when you take one step, you can almost always take the second one.” – Kathrine Switzer

We have had so many brave female voices grace the waves of this podcast and are excited to share so many more. This time it’s the voice of the one-of-a-kind Kathrine Switzer, a.k.a Marathon Woman. Kathrine was the very first woman to ever run a Boston Marathon and has since been working to empower women in sports.

In 1966 Kathrine decided she wanted to run in a marathon. She trained for months before entering the 1967 Boston Marathon with her trainer Arnie, her boyfriend at the time Tom, and one other. She was the only woman running in the marathon and the first to ever wear a bib.

What she didn’t expect was to be physically attacked by one of the people organising the event that year. Despite viewing herself as a strong, independent, and certainly capable woman, she found herself feeling true fear.

Rather than quit, she continued to run and she finished the race. Because sometimes bravery means running away.

Listen as Kathrine shares her story and what bravery means to her. She has spent a lifetime helping to define what it means to be a woman in sports and her insights are invaluable. Running brave indeed!

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Kathrine Switzer

At the Boston Marathon four years ago, the world was pleasantly startled to learn that a 70-year old woman ran a marathon 50 years after she ran her first one. She was the first woman to ever do that, and she did it convincingly, in fact, only 24 minutes slower than she did her first marathon, at age 20.

In so doing, Kathrine Switzer broke yet another barrier in a lifetime of breaking barriers, and simultaneously celebrated 50 years of women’s athletic AND social achievements. She is our guest speaker today.

Kathrine Switzer is many things- an athlete, author, spokeswoman, commentator, and advocate.

She earned her bachelors in journalism and English, as well as her Masters from Syracuse University. But she will always be best known as the woman who, in 1967, challenged the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon and became the first woman to officially enter and run the event. Her entry garnered worldwide attention when a race official tried to forcibly remove her from the competition. This was captured in a photo that became one of Time-Life’s “100 Photos that Changed the World.”

Kathrine has run 42 marathons. In 1975, her two-hour and 51-minute marathon in Boston was ranked sixth in the world and third in the US. She won the New York City Marathon in 1974 and then, 43 years later– she ran through the streets again and finished 2nd in her age group. She has run for 64 years.

Having been denied many athletic opportunities herself, Kathrine became a tireless advocate for female athletes and, after organizing a global series of 400 women’s races in 27 countries, she was instrumental in making the women’s marathon an official event in the Olympic Games, first staged in 1984 in Los Angeles. She has advocated for women’s sports participation throughout the world and continues today with the creation of “261 Fearless”, a global non-profit network that empowers women through running.

She has won several Emmys for her sports commentary. She has authored hundreds of articles and three books, and is frequently interviewed about her marathon experience and her global work for female advocacy.

She’s earned more awards than I can name, but a few highlights are being named “Runner of the Decade” and one of four “Visionaries of the Century” by Runner’s World magazine, and an Honor Fellow from the National Association of Girls and Women in Sports. Similarly, she is in several Halls of Fame, but none more important than the U.S.A. National Women’s Hall of Fame, where she was inducted not so much for her own running, but for changing millions of women’s lives through running.

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