I’ve been a runner for 6 years. I donned my first pair of real kicks and hit the road when I turned 40 and have never looked back. Before that day when I first called myself a runner, it had never even crossed my mind that women had to fight to get the right to run distance and be recognized for it.
Let that sink in…women were barred from running long distances. Up until the 1970s. The 1970s! And by long distances, I mean races beyond 1.5 miles. One and a half miles!
Why? Because our delicate reproductive organs might fall out.
All this changed because of the efforts and dedication of many women, but one in particular – Kathrine Switzer.
Kathrine was the first woman to officially run the then all-male Boston Marathon in 1967. Officials thought she was a man until they saw her on the course at mile 2. They attempted to drag her off the course, but her fellow runners protected her and she finished the race in 4:20.
Her bib number was 261. And she was fearless!
At the 2014 New York City Marathon Expo, I had the opportunity to meet Kathrine. I didn’t know she was going to be there. I saw a sign that she was on the upstairs level – I burst into tears and bolted up the stairs. I was going to meet my hero!
She paved the way for me – a suburban stay at home mom of 3, slightly overweight, slow and plodding on the road – to run this race, the NYC Marathon, the biggest race in the world. She made it possible.
With tears in my eyes, I hugged her, thanked her and felt stronger than ever as I prepared to cover 26.2 miles through the streets of New York City.
Now I have the chance to thank her again!
Kathrine is launching a non-profit organization named 261 Fearless, a worldwide supportive community to empower women through running and walking. It’s for ALL women – walkers, fast runners, slow runners, runners of all shapes and sizes that enjoy the challenge, strength and comradery of movement.
As a 261 Fearless Ambassador, I’ll be helping to spread the joy of running through social media, blogs, events, expos, races, mentoring, and more!
I am honored to be part of Kathrine’s 261 Fearless endeavors. Running has given me so much strength and empowerment, confidence and new friends. I can’t think of a better way to honor this true hero than to spread Kathrine’s message!
Stay tuned for more 261 Fearless news!