Iconic athlete, sports and social advocate, author, and Emmy award-winning television commentator, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon. She has been honored widely for her achievements, including being inducted into the USA National Women’s Hall of Fame, for creating positive social change. The ramifications of her work are both joyful and profound, changing forever the face of sports, health and opportunities for women around the world.
Kathrine Switzer is relentless in her efforts to empower millions of women beyond the finish line, now through the recently created non-profit, "261 Fearless, Inc.," and in her example: she is training to run the Boston Marathon again in 2017, 50 years after she first challenged the rules and ran the prestigious event.
Sports history changed in 1967 when she officially registered and finished that famous race. It was still a men=s only event in those days and Switzer=s entry created a worldwide uproar when the race director attacked her mid‑stride and tried to tear off her bib numbers and remove her from the event, because she was a woman. The photo of this incident flashed around the globe and became one of Time‑Life=s A100 Photos that Changed the World.@
Radicalized by the incident, Switzer campaigned for sports equality for women, and created opportunities for them. Official status came in the Boston Marathon in 1972; later that year she was one of the creators of the first women=s road raceY and the women=s running boom was on. 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 (2:51:37). 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 women 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 for the first time in the 1984 Olympic Games.
While Switzer regards this accomplishment as a game-changer for women, she has yet larger ambitions of taking the transformational power of running to more women all over the world, especially those who do not have easy access to opportunities. Through "261 Fearless" (her 501c3 Foundation) she aims to empower women through a network of communication, clubs, training, events and merchandising. ("261" was the number on the bib which the angry official tried to tear off of her in the 1967 Marathon. Over the years, the number has come to mean "fearless in the face of adversity" as women relate to its powerful story.)
Switzer is a personal example of fearlessness as well, having disproved years of myth and supposed female limitation. Now she takes on the challenge of ageing by celebrating her experiences in the Boston Marathon by running it in April 2017, at age 70, fifty years after she first did in 1967. If she succeeds, she will be the first woman in history to have run a marathon 50 years after her first one, but the real history will be made as an enthusiastic team of women run with her in a celebratory fund-raising effort that will impact women’s lives around the world.
Switzer is an Emmy award-winning TV commentator and has covered the Olympic Games, World and National Championships as well as hundreds of other events including the New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and every televised edition of the Boston Marathon (36 consecutive years!). She is a journalist and author of three books, including her memoir, Marathon Woman. Other books include, 26.2 Marathon Stories, co-authored with her husband, Roger Robinson, and Running and Walking for Women Over 40.
Switzer is a dynamic public speaker who inspires her audience because she is an authentic and accessible example herself. She is a visionary who has changed the world, continues to do so to this day and shows her audience how they, too, can make a positive and lasting impact on the world, or simply in their own lives.
She is also a lively, entertaining and highly significant interview and consequently enjoys extensive and continuous national and global publicity. This has included Oprah, Tonight, Today, Good Morning America, Nightline, and features on CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, MSNBC, ESPN, CBC, BBC, France3, France National, NHK Japan, ZDF Germany, etc., and all the major daily newspapers and magazines in the countries she visits. A media standout, however, was being the program-opening interview in "MAKERS: Women Who Make America", the 3-hour PBS-AOL documentary on the women’s movement that first aired in 2012 and continues today as a precedent-setting global series.
Her world is global, and she speaks, commentates, endorses and runs from Athens to Argentina to Atlanta, from Boston to Beijing to Brussels. She lives in both the Hudson Valley of New York and in Wellington, New Zealand.
Switzer received both her B.A. (’68) and M.A. (’72) from the Syracuse University Newhouse School of Communications, and serves on the Board of Advisors at Syracuse University’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. In 2006 Switzer was awarded the Arents Award, Syracuse University’s highest award given to honor an alum.
While all her awards and accolades are too lengthy to name, there is one particular highlight: In 2011 she was inducted into the U.S.A. National Women’s Hall of Fame; 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. Or as Kathrine says, "It’s not about running. It’s about changing people’s lives."
Switzer’s Career Highlights include:
- Inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in October 2011 for creating positive
global social change.
- Creating "261Fearless", a non-profit that is empowering women around the world.
- Being instrumental in getting the women’s marathon into the Olympic Games.
- Winner of several Emmy Awards for marathon TV broadcasting .
- Author, Marathon Woman (DaCapo Press), Running and Walking for Women Over 40,
- (St. Martins Press and also Diversion Publishing (e-book)), co-author 26.2 Marathon
- Stories (Rodale).
- Founder and former director of the Avon International Running Circuit; 400 races, 27 countries,
- 1 million women.
- Inducted Hall of Fame (’14) and winner of Abebe Bikila Award (’07) for Global Contribution
- to Sport of Running from New York Road Runners
- First class of inductees (’98) National Distance Running Hall of Fame
- Named one of the Visionaries of the Century (2000); a Hero of Running (2012), and Runner
- of the Decade (1966-76) by Runners World Magazine.
- Winner, 1974 NYC Marathon.
- Broke Gender Barrier at 1967 Boston Marathon.
- Achieving a world-ranked 2:51 marathon time in 1975.
- Being able to train for the 2017 Boston Marathon, 50 years after the first.
Speech Titles Include:
- Become a Hero In Your Own Life
- Putting One Foot in Front of the Other: (Change Your Life & Change the World)
- Breaking Barriers: Yours, Theirs, Ours
- Reverse the Process: Make Positives from Negatives
- Take Charge of Your Body, Take Charge of Your Life
- Marathon Woman: My Story, Your Story (Not For Women Only!)
- Talent is Everywhere; It Only Needs an Opportunity
- You Can’t Run and Stay Mad
- Life is for Participating, Not Spectating
- Whatever title you want, Swtizer can make it work!