Kathrine Switzer: The Fast and Fearless; Inspiring a Women’s Running Revolution
In 1967, Kathrine Switzer pinned a bib to her chest and became the first official women entrant in the Boston Marathon. With the race underway, an official who thought no women should be racing, attacked her and attempted to rip the bib off her sweatshirt. Her number was 261, a number that lives now as a symbol for women’s athletic rights.
Switzer went on to complete 39 lifetime marathons and won the New York City Marathon in 1974. She’s also announced a return to Boston in 2017, for the 50th anniversary of her epic debut. But her impact goes beyond racing. Connecting and empowering women has always been Switzer’s mission. In 2015, she made use of her celebrated bib number to create “261 Fearless”, a meeting place for all active women—walkers, joggers, runners, of all levels. In its race events and social media initiatives, Fearless 261 is a community that believes in confidence-building through fitness.
“I had only thought of the Boston bib number as three digits. But the truth is that everybody, women especially, related to the story and the photos of the Boston Marathon incident. It reminded them that they, too, had been told at one time or another that they were not welcome or not good enough, or the wrong color or social class. It is this 261 Fearless organization and the many fearless members using the powerful vehicle of running that will make inroads to positive social change all over the world,” says Switzer.