Women’s running hero Kathrine Switzer heading to NYC Marathon four decades after win, Canadian Running, by Sinead Mulhern

There’s still three months left of 2017 and Kathrine Switzer is making it count. It has been a crazy year for the pioneer of women’s running and the excitement isn’t even close to over.

Switzer, who is best known for being the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon with an official bib, has long-since been a figure outspoken on women’s issues in the running scene. Back in 1967 when women weren’t allowed to run the Boston Marathon, she went against the grain and ran it anyway registering under her initials. When the race director found her out and tried to drag her off the course, she stood up to him and completed the full distance.

This year marked the 50-year anniversary of that run. In these past five decades, Switzer has devoted herself to bringing gender equality into the world of athletics. (You can thank her for her efforts in getting women officially accepted into the Boston Marathon as well as getting the women’s marathon into the Olympics, for example.)

What is 261 Fearless?

She’s also behind the organization 261 Fearless (notice the nod to the bib number she wore during her run in Boston) which works to use running as a vehicle to empower women around the globe. By getting women engaged with the sport, 261 Fearless builds that confidence needed to overcome hurdles perhaps related to socio-economic status, sexual orientation, location, etc. They host running clubs and events around the world. The 1967 Boston Marathon is an iconic moment in the world of women’s running. Appropriately, Switzer celebrated by running with women who made up her 261 Fearless team.

That’s not the only time this year that she’ll have done this. The New York City Marathon is fast approaching and seeing as her fitness is looking good this year, Switzer is running another marathon. Ten women on the 261 Fearless team will accompany her – that includes Canadian representation.

New York City Marathon

The New York City Marathon is set for Nov. 5 of this year. While Boston may be Switzer’s best-known moment, she has quite a history with the New York Marathon as well. Though the course has changed over the years, she has run the marathon four times. 1974 was her biggest year. Not only was she the winner that year, but she also won it with a 27-minute lead over the second-place competitor. That gap, as Switzer explains, goes to show how few females were participating in road racing back then. It is also going to be the largest gap the marathon will ever see. She is also the last New York woman to have won the prestigious race.

She last ran the marathon in 1975. Now, she’s going back. Understandably, it’s going to be an emotional one but it’ll be a proud moment as this women’s running icon caps off 2017. Keen on hearing more from Switzer? We sat down with her to chat at length about her thoughts heading into New York. Hear that conversation on this week’s episode of The Shakeout Podcast airing Friday.

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Photo: Michael Doyle