A legendary runner who made a name for herself as the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon was in New York Monday. The great Kathrine Switzer led a group of women on a run downtown.
Switzer says she remembers the Boston Marathon in 1967 like it was yesterday. It was a moment that changed her life — and running — forever.
Switzer finished the Boston Marathon wearing her bib number, 261, even though race officials tried to take it from her mid-race. She says she was terrified but made the decision to finish the race, which inspired her to create change for women everywhere.
Switzer is currently in New York City getting ready for the marathon next month. She won the race 43 years ago but hasn’t run it since. Back then, the race was entirely in Central Park.
Switzer has been broadcasting along the marathon course from the back of a motorcycle for the last 28 years but hasn’t run the five boroughs. This is the year, she says. She is 70, she is fit, and she is going to eat it up.
Monday morning’s run was a 5K hosted by Adidas, from the brand’s store on Broadway, over the Williamsburg Bridge, celebrating women through Switzer’s organization 261 Fearless. The nonprofit, named for her Boston Marathon bib number, was created to enhance and empower women all over the world through running.
Deborah Halliday Mills, the charity bib manager for 261 Fearless, is one of those women. She started running when she turned 40. Mills said she had never done anything athletic in her life before. Running has given her freedom and confidence in herself.
Kristen Conklin, a runner and Boston Marathon qualifier herself, says she grew up chubby kid and ate junk. She transformed herself through a commitment to health and fitness.
Male or female, in our crazy world, Switzer says we need running more than ever. If you’re ever losing faith in human nature, she encourages you to go out and watch a marathon. You’ll see people of all shapes and sizes, some without legs or arms, running and getting themselves through.