Author. Activist. Athlete.
President, Marathon Woman, AtAlanta Sports Promotions, Inc. and Board Chair of 261 Fearless
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.
- Inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in October 2011 for creating positive global social change
- Winner, 1974 NYC Marathon
- Broke Gender Barrier at 1967 Boston Marathon
- Emmy Award-winning TV commentator
- Author, Marathon Woman (DaCapo Press), Running and Walking for Women Over 40, the Road to Sanity and Vanity (St. Martin’s Press), co-author 26.2 Marathon Stories (Rodale Press)
- Founder, Avon Running Global Women’s Circuit
- Winner of Abebe Bikila Award for Global Contribution to Sport of Running from New York Road Runners
- First class of inductees into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame
- Named one of the Visionaries of the Century (2000) and a Hero of Running (2012), and Runner of the Decade (1966-76) by Runners World Magazine
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 42 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.
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 (40 years!).
She is a dynamic personality and effective public speaker, and addresses business, academic, fund-raising and sports groups globally with socially significant and individually-tailored presentations. She has appeared on Oprah, Nightline, CBS & NBC Evening News, Tonight, Today, Good Morning America, ESPN Sports Center, Al Jazeera, CNN, the BBC, ITV, CBC, PBS, and many other electronic and print outlets.
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.
At age 72, 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.