Author: Kathrine Switzer

Marathon pioneer Kathrine Switzer: How I celebrate International Women’s Day

Credit: marathonfoto.com
Credit: marathonfoto.com

Kathrine Switzer broke the gender barrier at the previous all-male Boston Marathon, won the New York City Marathon, and created women’s running events in 27 countries that spearheaded the women’s marathon into the Olympic Games. She is an Emmy Award-winning sports commentator, the author of three books, and is currently leading ‘261 Fearless’, a women’s empowerment movement through running.

March 8 is International Women’s Day. This day we celebrate the achievements of women with a day of action: more than talk, we will DO.

For me, it’s also a day I happily reflect on my mantra:

Be Fearless, Be Free, Be Grateful.

Our mantras are a reflection of own lives, and sure, mine includes the hard work, risks and the awakenings of many years. But this mantra also evolved from the contributions and collective spirit of many women’s lives, both past and future, and in the spirit of celebration, I’d like to share its evolution with you.

When I first ran the 26.2 mile/42.2 km Boston Marathon wearing bib number 261, I broke a huge barrier of women’s so-called limitation. Barriers are broken when myths are finally shattered, and that comes when women are given an opportunity to prove themselves. Talent and capability exist in all of us; we only need the opportunity to try. Social change and advancement, fearlessness and vision come by adding facts and inspiration, but the opportunity is paramount.

As I write this, I’m on a plane to the 261 Women’s Marathon in Mallorca, and it is most fitting that this event is being held on International Women’s Day, because the event was created as an opportunity for women to experience breaking the myth of their own limitation. Women need to prove to themselves they can take on a challenge and succeed; they need to DO it to understand. The spirit at this particular run is electric and life-changing, because when women run a marathon, they know they can do anything.

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