Her Story

ICONIC FIGURE Kathrine Switzer has long been one of running’s most iconic figures. But when she was inducted into the U.S.A. National Women’s Hall of Fame last year, it was not just for breaking barriers but also for creating positive global social change. Because of her, millions of women are now empowered by the simple act of running. Read More

FEARLESS 261 The mission of Fearless 261 is to bring active women together through a global supportive community – allowing fearless women to pass strength gained from running and walking onto women who are facing challenges and hence sparking a revolution of empowerment. 261 is the symbol that unites us as empowered runners and walkers. Iowa Public Radio phone interview of Kathrine’s Fearless 261 program.

THE BOSTON MARATHON Her work began accidentally 45 years ago when she was the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon when it was considered a men’s only race. Her entry revolutionized the sports world when she was physically attacked by the race director for wearing official bib numbers in the race. The photo of this incident flashed around the globe and became one of Time-Life’s “100 Photos that Changed the World.” Switzer finished that race but was radicalized by the incident. She campaigned to make women official in the Boston Marathon in 1972 and later that year was one of the creators of the first women’s road race.

Switzer went on to run 39 marathons, and won the New York City Marathon in 1974. She ran her personal best in 1975, finishing second in Boston (2:51:33). She then put her substantial energies into creating the Avon International Running Circuit of women’s only races in 27 countries with over a million participating from 1978 to the present time. It was this series of events, which showed global participation and performances that largely convinced the IOC to include a women’s marathon in the 1984 Olympic Games.

TV COMMENTATOR Switzer is now an Emmy award-winning TV commentator and has covered the Olympic Games, World and National Championships as well as the New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and every televised edition of the Boston Marathon (36 consecutive years!).

AUTHOR Marathon Woman, Switzer’s award-winning memoir, was first published in 2007. Her other books include 26.2 Marathon Stories, co-authored with her husband, Roger Robinson and best-selling Running and Walking for Women Over 40. As a journalist, her articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Parade Magazine as well as all major running publications. Many of her publications can be found on in the press archive on this site.

STILL RUNNING At age 65, Switzer is still running marathons, having completed the Berlin Marathon in 2011 to launch the German edition of Marathon Woman. She also won her age group in the extremely difficult 2011 Motatapu off-road mountain marathon in New Zealand, and in 2010 fulfilled a lifetime dream of running the 2,500th anniversary race of the Athens Marathon.

She received both her BA and MS from the Syracuse University Newhouse School of Communions. She and her husband reside in the Hudson Valley of New York and Wellington, New Zealand.

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