Kathrine Switzer Shares the Fearlessness of Running with Women Worldwide
By now, runner, author, and activist Kathrine Switzer has logged countless miles. Most famously, she completed 26.2 as the first official female in the Boston Marathon, in 1967. The stunning photos of race director Jock Semple nearly pulling her off the course made history and cemented her life’s purpose of empowering women.
But like any others, her journey started with a single mile—one she’d run, on repeat, at her dad’s suggestion beginning when she was 12. He told her it would improve her performance on the field hockey team. Ultimately, it transformed her life.
“Every day I felt like I had a secret weapon, a magic that nobody could take away from me,” she said. “It was just amazing to have that under my belt. So by the time I was 19 and training for the Boston Marathon, I felt like I could do anything.”
Switzer’s goal of sharing that power brought her to Chicago earlier this month to speak at a fundraising luncheon for the Midtown Educational Foundation (MEF). At the MEF’s Metro Achievement Center for Girls, Switzer explained to #WeGotGoals the immediate connection she felt to the organization, a message she’d echo at the luncheon later that day.
Just like her father and her school hockey team gave her the opportunity to navigate the challenges of teenage and young adult life with confidence, MEF’s mentoring programs support low-income students in Chicago in achieving their potential. “Nobody understands what they can do unless they have those opportunities,” she said.
Switzer’s pioneering Boston run was only the first of many incredible goals. From there, she aimed both to improve her own running performance—she eventually ran a time of 2:51:37 and won the New York City Marathon in 1974—and also to help bring the women’s marathon to the Olympics. That, she did by partnering with corporations like Avon to start women’s marathons around the world, until the International Olympic Committee had no choice but to say yes, in 1984.
“I felt that if we could do that, we could level the playing field completely, and in many ways we did,” she said. “When that happened, I said—that’s it.”
But as long as injustice persisted, Switzer couldn’t sit out the next revolution. As she approached 70, she started receiving messages from women wearing her original Boston bib number, 261, saying it made them feel fearless. “When people started sending me pictures of their tattoos, I realized I had to do something with it,” she said. “It was more than kind of synchronicity.”
So, she and her colleagues launched a non-profit called 261 Fearless, which unites women around the world with the opportunities running brings. Each goal they achieve on the road or trail, each fellow athlete they meet, inspires confidence and a sense of accomplishment that carries over throughout their lives.
“It’s like, I’m going to take you by the hand and we’re going to put one foot in front of the other, we’re going to walk, to run. We’re going to forget all the junk that went on during our day and our week and our lives just for an hour, and you’re going to find your fearless.”
As a young runner, she set out to prove that women could handle long distances. Now, she’s motivated more by a sense of responsibility to the next generation. She still runs at a high level—an endeavor that energizes rather than depletes her. Last year, she ran the Boston Marathon again, 50 years after her first time.
“When I crossed that finish line, what I felt like I had done is pass the torch to the next 50 years. It was a great feeling,” she said. “There were with me 125 women who ran in Boston and who raised substantial money for the global launch of 261 Fearless, who are full of passion. And I said, you know what, it’s in good hands.”
Not that Switzer’s retiring anytime soon. Listen to this week’s episode to hear more about her future goals—which involve, yes, more running, along with another book—her perspective on why running matters more than ever in this particular social moment, and why she hopes people will support (or start) organizations like MEF in their communities.
This episode is presented by Chicago Sport and Social Club, reminding you that summer is just around the corner. Get into a summer volleyball league now and use code “GOALS” to get 5 percent off until March 15.
JAC: 00:16 Welcome to #WeGotGoals, a podcast by aSweatLife.com, on which we talk to high achievers about their goals. I'm Jeana Anderson Cohen. With me, I have Cindy Kuzma and Maggie Umberger.
MU: 00:16 Good morning, Jeana.
CK: 00:29 Morning, Jeana. This is Cindy. Maggie and Jeana, you guys have some pretty exciting stuff happening at aSweatLife this week, right?
JAC: 00:31 We sure do. We launched a Kickstarter this month. Our goal is to raise $20,000 with the help of anyone who's ever benefited from anything that aSweatLife does, from the podcast to the ambassadorship to the events, to the content. We're relying on people who like us the way that we like them to help fund growth projects. We're working on expanding our ambassadorship, which helps incredible women here in Chicago right now, set and achieve big goals and support each other along the way and we've seen such magic happen, right Maggie?
CK: 01:07 So much. I mean, the past year of getting to know all of our ambassadors really well and get to see them actually accomplish goals. We did a little bit of a survey to ask people what have you actually accomplished and would like to share with us. And we were really overwhelmed with how many people said like, I finished this degree. I've been accepted into this program. I have written a book, I have, you know, bought a condo. None of them necessarily like fitness goals. Although those are always peppered in with the things that we do. But life goals and the way that people attack their goals in the gym are the way that they're attacking them in the rest of their lives and other aspects of their lives. And it's been really fun to watch that happen and to kind of get to support everyone along the way.
JAC: 01:48 And so if you want to support that growing network, check the link in the show notes and on aSweatLife.com.
CK: 01:48 Awesome.
JAC: 01:58 But on the same note, Kathrine Switzer is a big achiever who sets big goals outside of the gym. And inside it, wouldn't you say, Cindy?
CK: 02:10 I would say that is absolutely the case. She is one of the pioneers of the women's running revolution and I was so thrilled to get to speak with her. She was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. And that's a race I've run a few times myself. So what an honor to speak with her and how insightful and open and honest she was about her experiences.
MU: 02:29 So when I listened to your interview, Kathrine's passion for running made me want to sign up for a marathon. And I've never thought that I would want to run any kind of distance before. But the way she talks about her fuel for life and everything she goes after and how she has used running to help her tackle her goals outside of running. It sounds infectious to me. And she talks about that being like her secret weapon. Can you talk a little bit about that experience for her?
CK: 02:59 Yeah. I mean her dad encouraged her to start running a mile every day when she was 12 and if you think about someone encouraging you to do something like that that you didn't think you could do when you were 12 and then you did it every day and you kind of gained this physical confidence in yourself and you navigated your preteen and your teenage years and you just really had this feeling that, hey, I can do this thing that I never thought I could do and that no one else thought I could do.
CK: 03:24 It really would just give you that power to think that you could do anything. And that's what it did for her. And she believes that running can be that secret weapon for so many people and it's a gospel that she preaches. You'll hear her talk about, especially in these sort of divided times, how running can really bring people together in addition to bringing confidence to each individual. But we heard her speak, Jeana and I went to hear her speak at a lunch for the Midtown Educational Foundation later the same day that I interviewed her and she also talked about the fact that everyone has a secret weapon. It might not be running for you--it might be running for you, Maggie, you might have to try it, but uh, but whatever it is, there is something that you didn't think you could do and someone gives you the opportunity to do it and you do it and you take that with you.
CK: 04:05 And it's just a matter of aligning the opportunity with setting that goal and accomplishing it and thinking about that carrying over to the rest of your life.
JAC: 04:14 And what's incredible about seeing her speak is how energized she is still to this day about the cause of women running and about how women who run can change the world. When she started this, when she took up the Boston Marathon, she was in her twenties and today she's in her seventies. Can you talk to me a little bit about how she's staying energized or why is she staying energized?
CK: 04:40 Yeah. Running, she says, gives her energy, you know, people who don't run sometimes think running makes you tired, but once you sort of tap into that secret weapon of it, it really does give you energy and fuels you. But it's certainly her motivation to, to do all the things that she does has changed in the 50 years that she's been doing them.
CK: 04:58 When she first started, she had something to prove both as an individual and as, as a woman who wanted to show people that women's bodies could handle the distance of running the marathon. And she was instrumental, you'll hear her talk about this as one of her biggest goals in getting the women's marathon, um, into the Olympics, which happened in 1984, which is not very long ago, which is crazy to me. But now she still feels the same energy and passion, but her motivation has shifted a little bit. Now she feels a responsibility. She started this non-profit 261 fearless, which is based on her number from the Boston Marathon, not because she thought it would be a good idea, but because of what she was hearing from women out there who were motivated by her to continue spreading this movement.
MU: 05:43 261 Fearless. It gives me chills to hear her talk about it in the, in the episode, and I'm sure all of our listeners will also feel that same way. So here is Cindy with Kathrine.
CK: 06:06 This is Cindy Kuzma and I am here with Kathrine Switzer on the #WeGotGoals podcast. Kathrine, thank you so much for joining us today.
KS: 06:08 Oh, Cindy I'm so glad to be here to be with you and to talk about so many really great things that are going on.
CK: 06:15 Yeah, so Kathrine, you are here in Chicago. Welcome to Chicago, first of all! We're here at the Midtown Educational Foundation's Metro Achievement Center for Girls. Could you tell me a little bit about why we're here, why you're here today?
KS: 06:27 You know, I was asked to speak today to a big fundraising luncheon for the Midtown Educational Foundation by a friend of mine who knows me through running and he said, your goals, your persistence, are so similar to what this foundation is all about. The more I heard about Midtown Educational Foundation, I really, really wanted to do the speech, so I'm grateful for being here.
KS: 06:50 It is a wonderful organization that addresses the needs of low income average students with a mentoring program after school where these kids can get the tutoring and the help and the encouragement both for character development as well as academics to make them exceptional. And I'm so pleased to be a part of that because we all need an opportunity in life. That's what my speech is going to be all about. It's all about very similar things to my running career where I began as a, I would say less than average runner, a no talent and worked really hard and trained really hard and then also saw in the course of the way inequalities that existed for women and it developed into an entire career and life goal. So that's why I'm here to take those similarities into another area, which I'm very excited about.
CK: 07:48 Let's talk a minute about how it all began. You are known for so much now, but this started in 1967 when you signed up as K.V. Switzer, you pinned on that bib 261 and you became the first woman officially to run Boston. And you finished the race that day, but, but you almost didn't because of what happened with Jock Semple and how he tried to pull you off the course and those photos are just astonishing still. And I'm sure you've told this story a million times, but I think it cannot ever be lost to history. So can you tell me one more time and how you reflect on that moment now?
KS: 08:19 Yes. First of all, Cindy, it didn't start with pinning on a bib for the 1967 Boston Marathon. It started when I was 12 years old. It started with a dad who encouraged me to run a mile a day, and so I grew up running a mile a day playing on the field hockey team and my high school, I was lucky to have a field hockey team and I had an incredible sense of empowerment from running this mile a day.
KS: 08:40 I mean every day I felt like I had, you know, a secret weapon, a magic that nobody could take away from me, um, and what a way for a little 12 year old to grow up and go through all the crazy behaviors of, of high school. It was just amazing to have that under my belt. So by the time I was 19 and training for the Boston Marathon, I felt like I could do anything. That's also why I'm here in Chicago, as you know, to talk to the Midtown Educational Foundation people and their donors and to let them know that every kid out there just needs some kind of encouragement. If my dad hadn't started me with that mile a day, probably I would've discovered running much later. And I just hate to think if I hadn't just picked up that one thing that he said, run a mile a day, my life would've been so completely changed.
KS: 09:28 Anyway, so here we are. Now. I'm a student at Syracuse University. I'm working with the volunteer coach. He's not even the real coach at the university, who is an ex marathoner who was really ancient, you know, he was 50 years old and to me I was 19. He took me under his wing and we just jogged together everyday and you know, one mile became three miles, became 10 miles, became 15. And then I told him I really wanted to run the Boston Marathon and he didn't believe a woman could do it anywhere at anytime. And I said, hey, come on. There's been about six or seven women who've run marathons, you know, with no fanfare. And there was a woman at Boston, Roberta Gibb, who jumped out of the bushes the year before and she ran. Well, he exploded in rage. And he said, "No dame ever ran no marathon."
KS: 10:15 He just couldn't believe a woman could do it even though he was so caring about me and believing in me, and so he he challenged me and said if if I showed him in practice that I could run it, he'd be the first person to take me. Which again, what an opportunity. My goal was always to show him, his name is Arnie Briggs, that I could do the distance and so in practice one day we ran 31 miles. I told him we're going to keep going another five miles and he fainted at the end of the workout. Then he was utterly convinced. An absolute evangelist and really helped me sign up for the race, insisted that I follow the rules to the letter. I was a card carrying member of the Amateur Athletic Union. You have to sign up for a race, you have to pay your entry fee.
KS: 10:59 You have to you get your medical certificate, you have to get your travel permits. It was a real nightmare of organization. Right? And I kept saying, well, you know, no other woman has done that. And he said, well that's, they should have, these are the rules and there's nothing in the rule book and there's nothing on the entry form about gender, and I said, oh, we're pushing a point, and he said it's not on the entry form, so I signed my name. Of course I signed my name K.V. Switzer, which was another amazing coincidence. I signed my name that way because I wanted to be a journalist and I thought and also I wanted to be J.D. Salinger, if you want to know the truth, it's embarrassing to say, but my also because my dad had misspelled my name on my birth certificate so it was always misspelled and I got tired of it and I started signing my name K.V Switzer.
KS: 11:42 Anyway, changed history because officials thought it was from a man, so the whole incident at Boston was really about wearing a bib number. Roberta Gibb was also in that race and she was not bothered. The official was furious because I was wearing a bib number and he thought I had pulled a fast one over on him and he attacked me in the race and tried to pull that bib number off. I mean, he was out of control. I mean, I'd never seen anybody so angry and it was out of the blue, so it kind of caught me completely off guard. I didn't panic, but I certainly tried to get away from him and my coach was screaming, "Leave her alone. She's OK. I've trained her." And my boyfriend decked him. And so I, you know, at that point, you know, I had that, that horrible moment of sinking fear and dread and I thought, should I get off the course, have I done something terribly wrong?
KS: 12:35 And then I decided if I do that, then nobody's going to believe that women can do it. So I've already got myself in enough trouble. I'm going to just finish this race, which was a really amazing decision for a 20 year old to make under fire like that. And then I got really angry and I said to my coach, I'm going to finish this race on my hands and my knees if I have to, because I was so determined that women were no longer marginalized and I hadn't felt political at all up to that point. I thought other women just didn't get it, you know, how important fitness and running was and suddenly it all came down like an avalanche and you know, we'd lost a lot of adrenaline and had to push through. Marathon's hard enough and your first one at Boston for God sakes.
KS: 13:18 The cool thing was this, is that all the guys were wonderful to me. Every guy who was around me or who passed me or who I passed said, you go for it. We're with you all the way. It was terrific. I'd like to fast forward for a minute on that note because I might forget this. Right now in this era of sexual contentiousness, I think running stands as such a beacon of gender equality, of motivation, of nonjudgmentalness. We're out there to support each other, not as males and females we're out there to support each other as runners and I don't know who you are next to me, sir, what color you are, what race, what religion, what language you speak, but I'm going to hug you at the end of this race and I and I trust you with my life. And where else are we going to find that? And so running can help everybody so much and we've learned so many lessons from it and we've seen this sport transform our major cities.
KS: 14:14 But anyway, back to the race, you know, so I finished in and the rest is history as they say. I was determined to become a better athlete and I was determined to create opportunities for women. And so a life plan was laid out in front of me.
CK: 14:25 Yeah. I just looked back at your memoir and reading about that event again. What struck me in addition to that emotion of it, the fear, I mean I can't even imagine being at the beginning of a marathon and dealing with all of that, was that realization that you seemed to have right then like the sense of your life purpose to show other women that, that they could have the secret weapon that they could feel this sense of physical accomplishment that seemed to have guided everything that you've done since.
KS: 14:50 Yes. But of course, you know, first of all I wanted to finish the race because I, I knew also if I stepped off the course and didn't finish it, I'd regret it my whole life.
KS: 15:01 And I said, I'm already here. I mean, how am I going to get home? Sort of like many runners say I couldn't quit because I had to get to the finish because that's where my clothes and my watch and my money is. That's the joke part of it. But it's true. You know, the other thing is you can't, you can't run a marathon and stay mad. And so by Heartbreak Hill, I'd even forgiven old Jock Semple. You know, he's a product of his time and overwork race director or you know, what the hell. But I was saying, why aren't women here? And that's when the realization came that they needed the opportunities. You know, I wanted to prove it for them, but it was then I realized you can't blame them for not being here if they've never had the opportunities. Nobody understands what they can do unless they have those opportunities.
CK: 15:51 Hey, it's Cindy and we'll get back to my interview with Kathrine in just a minute, but first I want to let you know this episode is brought to you by Chicago Sport and Social Club. With them. It is more than a game, it's a social sports experience and hey, maybe running isn't your secret weapon. Maybe it's beach volleyball. There are a lot of reasons why you should play. You might want the feel of sand between your toes. You might want to meet people or you could just want to move your social life outside for a season. Whatever your goals are or your reasons for playing, Chicago Sport and Social Club has a beach volleyball league for you. You can do like Kathrine does and create a team of all women. You can grab a group of co eds or you can sign up as an individual and get set up with the team. However you go about it, if bump, set spike or the words that punctuate your summer, you will want to register around the league built for you. To do it. Go to www.ChicagoSocial.com and use code goals. That's G-O-A-L-S when you register. You'll get five percent off now through March 15th. And now it's back to our interview.
CK: 17:04 So what we typically ask on the #WeGotGoals podcast is about one big goal that you've achieved and how you got there and I mean you have so many to choose from. I wonder if there's one that stands out to you as being a primary accomplishment for you.
KS: 17:17 Yes, for much of my life, a big goal, a life goal was to get the women's marathon into the Olympic Games. I felt if we could do that, we could level the playing field completely and in many ways we did. When that happened, I said that's it. Take Me God, I can go. You know, I was young, I was only 33 years old and we did this and we got the women's marathon into the Olympic Games, you know, less than 10 years after this getting official at Boston. So that was incredible. We worked five years to get women official at Boston, that took place in 72, and then the inclusion into the Olympics was voted in in 81 for the 84 games.
KS: 17:59 But life throws you some funny things. Who would have ever believed that in my sixties, my bib number 261 suddenly becomes this kind of a cult number, this magic number meaning fearless in the face of adversity. This is a number that is only been three digits to me, never had any resonance except for the fact that it was my first bib and suddenly people are saying this number makes me feel fearless. You know, and the reason is I suddenly thought is because everybody relates to a story like mine in their own way. They've been told they're not welcome. They've been told they're not good enough. They don't belong or they're the wrong race color, whatever. And then they run and they do it anyway and they become fearless and they were wearing it on their backs and inking their arms with 261 in the letters and the pictures were coming in.
KS: 18:46 What am I going to do with this? I said, finally when people started sending me pictures of their tattoos, I realized I had to do something with it. It was more than kind of synchronicity and we formed a non-profit called 261 Fearless, where we take the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other out to women around the world who have no opportunities or are fearful and show them that they can find their fearless. So it started like in a funny way. It's like the mentoring program here at the Midtown Educational Foundation. It's like, I'm going to take you Cindy by the hand and we're going to put one foot in front of it. We're going to walk, run. We're going to forget all the junk that went on during our day in our week and our lives just for an hour, and you're going to find your fearless and you do.
KS: 19:33 It is magic. Running is transformational. It changes our lives in fundamental ways because it gives us a simple sense of accomplishment. So 261 Fearless is launched as a series of global clubs where individually in different communities, towns, woman by woman, community by community. We're showing them just to get out and run and move together. We have a wonderful training program where we train the mentors, the coaches on how to create a non-judgmental environment, which is the toughest part. Learning to run is the easy part. Being non judgmental is not easy for some people. Also, we have a wonderful communications program at 261fearless.org website where women, when they join 261 Fearless also can have a closed portal and talk to each other. Sometimes in life you just need to know you're not alone out there and women can come in and say, Hey, I'm from Saudi. Can I talk to you from Canada?
KS: 20:31 You know, or hey, I'm in Iran and I'm running alone and I don't know if somebody wants to come to this race. If you come with me, I'll feel a lot better. You know, that's wonderful. And you say, Oh, come on, running can't do that. Running has changed the world. Running has become a social revolution. Already, North America, there are more women runners than men and those women are not, they're not running to be Olympic athletes, as you know, Cindy. They're running because they're empowered and the same as in Canada, France, Japan. You look at the, you as a runner yourself, understand. The Kenyan women runners, look what look what they have done. They have changed their status from third class people to esteemed revered people in their communities, the women who have been lucky enough to get out and run and come back with prize money are building schools and inoculating kids.
KS: 21:23 That changes the social fabric. So you know you change women and you've changed the world and I sincerely believe that 261 fearless is going to do that. It's amazing.
CK: 21:33 It's incredible to hear about the genesis of that basically coming from the community and you being in that prime position to to see that and realize all of these big goals.
KS: 21:45 It's scary though. I gotta tell you, it's really scary. You know, when we started forming this non-profit, I was 68 years old and I sat down with my team and I said, I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it. I'm too old to start another revolution, they said, no, no, no, we can do it. We could do. And I have a wonderful team of women who are like between 40 and 52, who are the core people they're at the top of their game.
KS: 22:08 They want a legacy. They're going to make it happen. They're full of passion. And when I crossed the finish line, I think we're going to talk about this, you know, I ran the Boston Marathon again for my 50th anniversary and when I crossed that finish line, what I felt like I had done is passed the torch to the next 50 years. It was a great feeling because I kept saying, you guys, I'm not going to be around the next 50 years. You've got to understand. And it's hard for me because I didn't even realize I was 70. You know, I kept saying I'm not 70, I'm 25. And there were with me 125 women who ran in Boston and raised substantial money for the launch of 261 Fearless. The global launch essentially who are full of passion and I said, you know what, it's in good hands.
CK: 22:54 It's amazing to think about the arc of your story from a woman almost not a lone woman, but a lone woman with a personal goal that was always bigger than you, but still, you know, to kind of being a part of a committed group of pioneers who worked to make things like the Olympic Marathon happened to now being basically like the leader of a movement. And so it's fascinating to hear that motivation for you of that idea of passing the torch because I do wonder how your drive and motivation changes through the years and I also wonder if you still feel like you have something to prove.
KS: 23:26 Yeah, I, it's not that I have something to prove because I know running works. OK. You know, I, you know, I just say it works. It works all the time. What I have, unfortunately, I guess is this huge sense of responsibility.
CK: 23:38 If you have the vision to see inequality and you walk by and you don't pick it up and do something, then I think you're doomed. And we have to do that. And that's why I kept saying to the team, I don't want to do this, I will don't. I mean I'm too old for another revolution. And they said, no, no, no, we'll handle this, you know, and thank God because, you know, I'm just, I'm too disorganized personally to, to really make another global program go. But they are wonderful and I have the voice and the vision and can see the direction. So as long as I'm able, I will continue to do this. But yeah, I do have that sense of responsibility and sometimes you know, you go to bed at night and you think, do I have the energy to carry on? And so far so good.
KS: 24:27 You know what's great though is running gives it back to you. You know, I've been running pretty hard lately and that running in pe people say, don't you get tired from the running? I said, no, they're running actually refreshes me because the running, relieves the stress and gives the creative process.
CK: 24:43 MMM hmm. I know that to be true to that is for sure. So the other big question we ask on #WeGotGoals is about a goal you have for the future and how you intend to get there. And you know, you talked about this idea of starting the movement and passing the torch, but you know, whether it's a, it's a goal for that you'd like to see happen with 261 Fearless or a personal goal of yours. What would you say is in the future?
KS: 25:06 You know, the darndest thing about having a goal is once you achieve it, you go, wow, I did that.
Speaker 3: 25:13 And then you look around and you like any athlete. Let's say you finally break three hours in a marathon as an example. You say, wow. Then you look around, you see people who are running like 2:18 and you say, oh, I have a long way to go, but yeah, do I have some more personal goals? Of course 261 and its success in changing women's lives is a huge goal of mine. But there are other goals. I have personal goals. I mean there's some broad ones like making women aware of taking control of their own health, of working with companies that that also helped people, like, I'm working with Humana for instance, in letting people know that we're on the verge of another threshold, another revolution which is aging and that people, you know, 60, 65 think they need to sit down and take it easy when the opposite is the case and they need to know that the more they more activity that they can embrace that the better their health is going to be.
KS: 26:06 This is true with my work with Go Red for Women, the American Heart Association and letting women know that heart disease is your number one killer and yet you can prevent 45 percent of your cases of heart conditions, heart disease by simple exercise, not a marathon, a walk every day. These kinds of things are are so important for me to get out there. Personally on a personal goal. I got to write another book and you know, Marathon Woman ended essentially in 1984 and it was always proposed as a two volume book. The publisher said even Bill Clinton can do it in one, so I had to shelve that, end it in 84 thinking maybe that was the culmination in my career, but it wasn't so now we have a whole other book about the evolution in the revolution of these women and how. And then the next goal I would think personally is frankly I'm fascinated with being older and running, running the Boston Marathon 50 years after I first did my first one and which made me the first woman in history to run a marathon 50 years after she ran her first one, which is not testimony to my greatness, trust me.
KS: 27:12 Trust me, it's testimony to how few women ran 50 years ago. It's going to be common place soon and there are plenty of women who are 70, 80, even 90 years old who are running marathons, which is wonderful to see. So I've enjoyed running Boston and in a, in a moment of hypoxia and delusion. I said, I'm in great shape. I'll run New York. I ran New York again last year, 43 years after I won it and people hundreds coming by and just slapping you on the back saying way to go. Now I'm running London on April 22. I'm not nearly as good as shape, but that's OK, London's just for fun. But I helped create that race in many ways and I've always wanted to run it. And then I'll run Berlin again. I've run before, but I'll run Berlin again in September and then maybe I'll do something, you know, you know, like cliché, like run the big six and I, I'll put this out there, but I don't want my husband to hear it, which is, I've always wanted to run Comrades. I've heard about that race and applied to for a sponsor to help me with in 1966. Even when I was training for Boston, I heard about Comrades and I said, I know I can do that. And so I went to a sponsor and ask if they would send me. And of course they thought I was smoking poppy.
KS: 28:32 So it's gone by the wayside all these years and it's kind of rankled me, it's kind of been in the back of my mind. I'd like to try that as well.
CK: 28:38 And for those of our listeners who don't know Comrades, it's a very famous ultramarathon in South Africa. That's some years uphill, some years downhill.
KS: 28:47 I don't know which one I'll take you to sometimes downhill's harder than uphill, especially as you get older for sure. But for right now, the wheels haven't fallen off and how grateful I am because my husband, Roger Robinson, one of the, one of the greatest runners in the world actually for many, many years has had now double knee replacements, transformed thinking about actually running on them because he ran very, very well on the first one. And now he's struggling with the second one. We'll see what happens, you know, you know, we're hoping for a miracle here and um, but, but science has changing amazingly.
KS: 29:21 But I don't know if the wheels do fall off or if they will. But let's go right now. I don't want to wait.
CK: 29:31 Well, we will be watching you every step. I know. So tell me, you mentioned where the website for 261 Fearless. How else can people follow you and keep tabs on the important work that you're doing?
KS: 29:40 Well, I mean I have somebody do Facebook for me and Twitter and stuff because you know, I'm so technophobic and idiotic with that stuff, you know, and I don't have time. I mean they get hundreds of emails a day, so shall I have somebody do that and so it's not huge, but you know, I'm on Facebook but really I think the best thing for them too, and they can always go to my website, MarathonWoman.com. Real easy to remember, but I really would love them to consider becoming a friend of 261 Fearless.
KS: 30:05 And that's again 261fearless.org or starting a club in their community and all that information is on the site. So tune in there. That's, that would be the best thing. And the last thing I'd really like people to do is support in their own communities. Things that give kids opportunities. My life was changed by a dad who told me to run a mile a day and like here in Chicago, the Midtown Educational Foundation is doing great things for kids. Everybody has something in their own community, and if you don't, why don't you create it?
CK: 30:39 That is a inspirational call to action for us all. Well, I can't thank you enough, Kathrine, for joining us today and thanks to the Midtown Educational Foundation for bringing you here and I'm, I'm just so grateful. Thanks for your time.
KS: 30:51 You're welcome, Cindy. Thanks for all you do.
CK: 31:00 This podcast is produced by me, Cindy Kuzma, and like so much else in life, it is better with friends. You can share it with yours by telling them about it or by subscribing yourself wherever you get your podcasts and then leaving us a rating or review while you're there. Special thanks to J. Mano for our theme music; to our guest this week, Kathrine Switzer; and to Tech Nexus for the recording studio.