Kathrine Switzer, the Woman Behind those Numbers
The number 261 is Kathrine’s bib number from the 1967 Boston Marathon. She protected that bib while an angry race director attacked her in the second mile and tried to rip the numbers off her shirt. He was infuriated that a woman had entered his race, declaring that it was a men’s only event.
Even though she was terrified and humiliated, Kathrine got away from the official, thanks to help from her teammates. She went on to finish the race, and was so determined she said she’d finish on her hands and her knees if she had to. The bib numbers 261 stayed proudly on her front and back; though the official did tear off the top right corner!
Kathrine continued her running career completing 39 marathons, and won the New York City Marathon in 1974. She ran her personal best in 1975, finishing second in Boston (2:51:33). She then put her substantial energies into creating the Avon International Running Circuit of women’s only races in 27 countries with over a million participating from 1978 to the present time. It was this series of events, which showed global participation and performances that largely convinced the IOC to include a women’s marathon in the 1984 Olympic Games.
Women from around the world have been wearing the number 261 on their outfits, bibs and body because it makes them feel Fearless in the face of adversity, whether it is a tough marathon, a difficult business presentation, or coping with the many challenges of life.
As she readies for the 50th Anniversary of the famed Boston Marathon run, Kathrine through the urging of many women around the world (and again, help from her teammates) has created 261 Fearless, a global network for women around the world to connect, support and inspire one another through running.
As Kathrine says, “Running will wonderfully change your life. Let it. We invite you to join our fearless community!”