Women's running pioneer Kathrine Switzer will run Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon credit Boston Herald

Kathrine Switzer, the woman who made history by pinning on an official race bib and running in the 1967 Boston Marathon, at a time when the marathon was a male -only event, is making history again. As a 50th Anniversary celebration, Switzer will lace up her shoes once again, pin on a “legitimate” bib and run the 121st Boston Marathon.

This time, she will be joined by 114 women and 7 men from 20 counties who are representing and raising funds for 261 Fearless, Inc., Switzer’s new global non-profit that empowers women around the world through a social running community.


“It is an honor and joy to participate in the 121st Boston Marathon,” said Kathrine Switzer. “What was a dramatic incident 50 years ago when an angry race official tried to throw me off the course for being a girl, became instead a defining moment for me and women runners throughout the world. The result is nothing less than a social revolution; there are now more women runners in the United States than men.”


One of the women who is running with Switzer and raising funds for 261 Fearless is Rosy Spraker, from the USA. “Kathrine not only broke the glass starting line,” says Spraker, “But she continued to champion the cause of women’s running for the next 50 years. With the money our team is raising, we will create non-competitive running clubs, coaches’’ education and communication programs in local communities, whether that is in Massachusetts or Albania. We’re asking women everywhere to start a club and join our empowering movement.”


Despite this inauspicious beginning, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) early on realized the seriousness of women’s desire to participate and the potential of their endurance. In 1972, five years after the ‘Switzer Incident’, the BAA welcomed women as official competitors. Switzer was 3rd in that race, ran Boston eight times, and posted her personal best of 2:51:37 in the 1975 edition. Boston was the first major marathon to admit women; this opened the floodgates for women’s participation globally.


"We are so pleased to welcome back Kathrine to the race which elevated and hastened the movement in women's sports," said B.A.A. President Joann Flaminio. "She has always been a fearless woman, and we look forward to concluding our year-long '50 Years of Women at Boston' celebration when we greet her at the finish line next April 17."


“There is only one 50th anniversary in our lives and this is a race that changed all of us,” said Switzer, now 70. “I’m training hard, and I’m buoyed by the spirit of this wonderful team. This race is not going to be about finishing time; it’s about celebration, inclusion and gratitude. I’m running to say thanks to a race, a city and thousands of wonderful people who have done so much to give strength and self-esteem to women.”


For more information about 261 Fearless, please visit www.261fearless.org. To view the 261 Fearless Team running the 121st Boston Marathon or to make a donation, please visit https://www.crowdrise.com/261fearlessboston2017/


Photo credit

Historical picture 1967: Boston Herald