Episode 020 – Kathrine Switzer, Women’s Running Icon and Founder of 261 Fearless

Kathrine Switzer

This week’s guest is one of Bobbi-Sue’s idols, Kathrine Switzer. Some of you may not recognize the name, but you will surely recognize the iconic photograph of her from the 1967 Boston Marathon when the race director tried to pull her off of the race course and her boyfriend blocked him. Yeah… THAT’S Kathrine Switzer. She was the first woman to run and complete the Boston Marathon as a registered participant, with a bib number. Kathrine took her celebrity and worked her entire life towards the empowerment of women. First she fought for the Boston Marathon to allow women to officially compete – it took 5 years after her race for that to happen. In 1974, she won the New York City marathon. She started the Avon Women’s Marathon race series which lead to the International Olympic Committee finally bringing the women’s marathon to the Olympics. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011 for creating a social revolution by empowering women around the world through running, Her bib number, 261, has become a symbol for fearlessness among women. When she realized the power that her bib number engendered in other women, she created 261 Fearless, a non-profit organization aims to break down the barriers of geography and create a global community for women runners of all abilities to support, encourage, and inspire each other towards a positive sense of self and fearlessness. In 2017, Kathrine ran the Boston Marathon wearing the same bib number. It was the 50th anniversary of her initial race. Bobbi-Sue fan girls real hard in this episode. It was a dream come true for her.

Upcoming speaking events:

  • February 23, 2018, East Lansing, MI, Michigan State University’s College of Law Sports Law Symposium
  • February 24, 2018, Amherst, MA, UMass Women of Isenberg Conference
  • March 23, 2018, Tampa, FL, USF Women who Ignite Student Engagement (WISE) Symposium
  • March 26, 2018, Gulfport, FL, Stetson Law Women’s Week Panel

This episode is sponsored by LifeSum. LifeSum is an app that helps people achieve healthier and happier lives. It’s your body, it’s your health. Your health is worth investing in. The LifeSum app helps you keep track of your health by logging meals, exercise, water intake, etc. It also gives you access to healthy eating plans based on your current lifestyle and what your goals are. Examples of some of the plans include Cleaning eating and the Ketogenic diet. They provide you with a broad range of recipes so that you never lose inspiration. LifeSum’s 3-week weight loss program can help you kickstart your weight loss journey the easy way. You can even add friends on there. Want to do a challenge with me? Check it out at www.lifesum.com/ltpf.

This week’s episode is also brought to you by Casper mattress. Casper is a sleep brand that makes expertly designed products to help you get your best rest, one night at a time.

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Additional Show Notes:
  • Kathrine splits the year between NY and New Zealand.
  • Last year Kathrine ran the Boston Marathon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of her iconic race.
  • She’s currently training to run the London Marathon on April 22, 2018. Kathrine had a hand in getting the London Marathon rolling. This was around the same time as when she was advocating for the women’s marathon to get into the Olympics.
  • Why did Kathrine train to run that initial Boston Marathon? Because her college “coach” said she couldn’t do it.
  • She retells the story about fateful day when she ran the Boston Marathon, as an officially registered participant, and how she felt when the race director tried to pull her from the course.
  • It took another 5 years before women were allowed to officially run the Boston Marathon. The next big goal was to get the women’s marathon into the Olympics.
  • Kathrine devoted her life to creating opportunities for women to experience running in safe, friendly environment. She used the databases from those events as evidence to get the women’s marathon into the Olympics.
  • Now, Kathrine promotes running as a way for women to feel empowered.
  • Kathrine’s bib number (261) has become a symbol and makes women feel fearless.
  • 261 Fearless: Clubs and networks of women who go running together. It creates a sense of empowerment.
  • Kathrine went to journalism school and then ended up creating her own job. She used her writing skills to write business proposals, sponsorships, press releases, etc.
  • She created AtAlanta Production company for events production and then used it as the overarching company for her broadcast career.
  • Kathrine got the inspiration for her first book through her mother. For her memoir, she was getting sick of other people telling her story. So she decided to just write it and it became a great history of running.
  • Bobbi-Sue realizes mid-interview that she has a picture of KVS from the Boston Marathon expo the year of the bombing.

Kathrine Switzer at 2013 Boston Marathon

  • How does KVS find downtime? It’s a real issue for Kathrine and her husband. Hitting the road and speaking at 30-40 events is a lot, particularly the travel. Her downtime is when she runs. She always runs alone.
  • She and her husband schedule time together. Literally in the calendar. Otherwise, she’ll be answering emails or helping a student who reaches out with a project.
  • Bobbi-Sue fan girls a bit. Like a lot, actually.
  • Equinox created a perfume with Kathrine’s DNA, called “Blood, Sweat, and Tears.”
  • Kathrine’s favorite perfume is Paris by Yves St. Laurent, Bobbi-Sue’s is La Vie Este Belle by Lancome
  • Humana is a sponsor of the Rock ‘n Roll events and KVS will be there to show people that actively aging really contributes to long term health. She was 70 when she ran her 50th anniversary race.



Switzer Crosses 2017 Boston Marathon Finish Line

261 Fearless Team – Boston 2017

Quotable moments:

  • “You’re in a constant state of jet-lag and your major household expenses aren’t college educations it’s airfare.”
  • “It’s the social revolution of running that fascinates me most.”
  • “I reminded him that I came from pioneering stock.”
  • “I was so embarrassed, humiliated…. but I made the determination at that point that I HAD to finish the race.”
  • “I knew that after I finished, nothing would ever probably be that difficult.”
  • “It was 5 years of not only proving ourselves as athletes but also the legislative work.”
  • “When the Boston Marathon accepted us that was effectively like opening the floodgates.”
  • “Sometimes women are their own worst enemies because they are given these limitations and they can’t see beyond them because they have no opportunity to experience anything else. If you can experience it or dream it, then you can do it.”
  • “You can’t be in the Olympics, to ski jump, because your uterus might fall out.”-KVS
  • “Let me worry about my own uterus, OK?”-BSDH
  • “In just about every field, there’s an opportunity for sports, and women are excelling at it.”
  • “Women’s professional sports will grow. It has to.”
  • “The world is not going to know the right story until you write it.” KVS’s husband to push her to write her memoir
  • “Fact is always more interesting than fiction.”
  • “It takes a hell of a lot of time out of your life. You just have to grind.”
  • “You can bullshit your way through a 5K, you cannot bullshit your way through a marathon. You can stay up all night and write an article. You cannot stay up all night to write a book.”
  • “When I go out and do like a 2 hour run, it’s like a vacation to me.”
  • “I think every kid in the world at one time or another has been disappointed by someone. Every kid in the world deserves to hear that they can do anything, be anything… be inspired to move ahead.”
  • “I think it’s a moral obligation.”
  • “Life is to participate not spectate. You can do this. You can do anything. I believe in you.” – KVS’s dad to her
  • “I can’t see and I can’t hear but I can really smell.”
  • “My tears are really private.”
  • “It’s really very edgy, a little bit creepy, and tremendously flattering.”
  • “All the smells in a marathon are not really nice.”
  • “Running has been a lifesaver.”
  • “I am forced now to admit that I’m 71. What a surprise, I thought I was 25.”
  • “Just go for 10 minutes, Bobbi-Sue. Just go for 10.” <— Bobbi-Sue’s new alarm to get her running
  • “Oh this is so exciting for my life.” BSDH on KVS being in Tampa soon

Kathrine Switzer running the 2017 NYC Marathon

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