She's Brave Podcast - Kristina Driscoll

RUN YOUR WAY TO EMPOWERMENT with Kathrine Switzer

October 24, 2023 Kristina Driscoll with Kathrine Switzer Episode 57
She's Brave Podcast - Kristina Driscoll
RUN YOUR WAY TO EMPOWERMENT with Kathrine Switzer
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Inspiring. Motivating. Empowering. This is Kathrine Switzer, the first official woman to run the Boston Marathon. She just wanted to run but ended up being an icon. In the beginning, the goal was just to be on the girls’ field hockey team in high school. But, with the ever-present support of her father, she not only reached that goal, she triumphed over and over, just by having the passion to put one foot in front of the other. From being the fastest girl on the field hockey team, to garnering an audience for girls’ sports for the first time by being a writer for the school newspaper, to training with the all-boys Cross Country team at Syracuse University, her younger years laid the foundation for her work in the spotlight as a women’s and civil rights activist, following her history-making run in the Boston Marathon in 1967. After that, the sky was the limit. She had to keep going…and she did! In this interview, Kathrine shares her awe-inspiring journey from curious girl to strong woman and how she is now giving back to other women worldwide through her non-profit, 261Fearless. 


In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Identify YOUR light!
  • Draw inspiration from Kathrine’s story to triumph over struggles of your own.
  • Understand just how much of an impact that one person CAN have! And realize that that person could very well be YOU!
  • Realize that where there is a ‘no’, there is more than likely an alternative. Find it!
  • Comprehend just how important it is to be self-aware. Life gives you moments to choose to be brave…or not. Choose bravery!
  • Know that life’s greatest relationships and experiences can come as a result of forgiveness.
  • Comprehend that everyone has moments of discouragement. It’s how you bounce back that determines what you’re made of.


About Kathrine

Iconic athlete, sports and social advocate, author, and Emmy award-winning television commentator, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon. She has completed 40 marathons and won the New York City Marathon in 1974. She went on to create and direct the Avon International Running Circuit, a program of 400 womens'-only races in 27 countries that eventually reached over 1 million women and led to the inclusion of the women’s marathon in the Olympic Games in 1984. Switzer is also a TV commentator and has covered the Olympics, World and National Championships and many major marathons, including 37 consecutive commentaries of the Boston Marathon. She is the author of three books including the popular memoir, Marathon Woman. Switzer has been honored widely for her achievements, most recently being inducted into the USA National Women’s Hall of Fame for creating positive social change. In 2015, she co-founded 261 Fearless Inc., a non-profit organization that inspires, motivates and educates women to lead empowered lives through running.  In 2017, at age 70, she ran the Boston Marathon on

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Kristina:

Hey everyone, it's Christina Driscoll, host of the she's brave Podcast. I'm so glad you're here with me. I did not start out brave at all. But I learned that we can do brave things, one small step at a time. After caregiving for my husband and son for 12 years, it was definitely time for my next chapter. I wanted to get brave women's voices out there in the world. And more importantly, I want all of you to have the courage and the resilience to live your best authentic life. So come along with me and learn how to live your best life. And I want you to hear the brave voices of women all around the world. Hey, everyone, it's Christina with the she's brave podcast. I am so excited for today's interview. She's truly my dream guest. And I've gained so much wisdom from reading her book and hearing her interviewed on other podcasts. She's an iconic athlete, sports and social advocate, author, and Emmy award winning television commentator Catherine Switzer. She was the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon in 1967. At the time, the race was considered a male only event. While running the marathon and angry race director attempted to pull Catherine out of the race. The photo of the incident became one of time life's top 100 photos that change the world Holy mackerel. Catherine. Welcome, welcome. Welcome,

Unknown:

Christina. It's great to be here. I love your enthusiasm of the title of the podcast. She's brave. I'm glad you think I'm brave. Sometimes I'm not so bright. But anyway, well,

Kristina:

we're all that way. And we're all learning how to be brave together. And that's what this is about. It's about your story today, and about how you learn to be brave. And also, you're the co founder of the nonprofit to 61 Fearless Incorporated, which we are going to talk about later. So you have so many powerful lessons that are so incredibly inspiring. I want to go back to when you were 12 years old, and announced at the dinner table that you wanted to become a cheerleader.

Unknown:

You know what I love telling the story, Christina, because I want every parent in the world to listen to this story. Because how influencing you can be you don't tell people No, you give them an alternative. And this is what happened. I was a skinny little pre pubescent kid wearing glasses. Well, it's only 12. But I was going into high school. I had started school a year earlier. So I was always behind. That's another thing you shouldn't do to your kids. So here I come from a country Elementary School, and going right into eighth grade high school with grown up people you know, and as I say, I'm a skinny little kid. And so I was looking for acceptance. And what registered to me is that people who were pretty unpopular and look good all the time and dated the captain of the football team, or cheerleaders. And it seemed to me that they were kind of like the social nirvana. Right? I remember that. I wanted to be one. Well, I think my parents probably felt sorry for me, I'm sure because there was no way I was going to be a cheerleader. But my father said, You didn't want to be a cheerleader because cheerleaders cheer for other people. You want people to cheer for you. And I just sort of was stunned by this. And I said, what he said, Honey, the game is on the field, not on the sidelines. And that's what life is life is about participating, not spectating. And I said, Well, what am I going to do? And you said, You know what, I went to a board meeting the other day at your school. That was very exciting. They have a new thing for girls is called field hockey. I don't know what it is, but I know they run. I've seen you out playing. And if you ran a mile a day, you'd be the best player on that team. And I said, I can run a mile a day. I was like climbing Kilimanjaro. He said, You can do it. He Cohen was measuring the yard. And it was now a math question. Right? My father always engaged me that way. So we figured out the distance. He said, Okay, seven laps. I thought I can't do seven laps of this yard. And he said, Sure, you can. Come on. I'll show you how. So we get out there and I start running. And he's like, No, not Not so loud out. He said, There's no about going fast. It's about finishing the job. So I'm getting all these pearls of wisdom, right? I slow down. He said, Come on. I know you can do this. And I did. And he said see a mile you did a mile I said, Wow. And he said, You got to do it every day. No matter what And he said, It's not about fast. It's about doing the job and you got to do the job every day just like people go to work every day you got to do this. And he said, trust me. I struggled through a Washington DC summer, hot, steamy, stinking, hot, humid. And some days were easy. Other days impossible. I was getting all these life lessons. And when I finished the summer, got ready for that team, I was really nervous about trying out when I tried to use right, I was one of the best players on the team, because nobody could catch me.

Kristina:

I just gotta say, we just we just you learned so much already from your dad. And we all just learned a lot by listening to that story right there.

Unknown:

There we go was a challenge. You can do a kid I believe in you start slow, finish fast, you know, just do the job show up every day. And those life lessons stayed with me all my life. The other thing that stayed with me all my life, though, was that sure when I made the field hockey team, I was excited. I was a part of a group. We were fun. We had great times together. We tried, we worked really hard together. We loved winning, we hated losing. But I still ran that mile a day I ran it and secret in addition to the field hockey, because I felt that that had given me some kind of magic. And I couldn't figure out what it was. But I know. Now, of course, it was empowerment. But every day I walked into that big high school 1800 kids after leaving a school of about 50 kids right into that school, I took a deep breath. And I said, I've got a victory under my belly. Nobody else has. And nobody can take it away from me. And I'm sitting next to an 18 year old in algebra class. And I know he hasn't run a mile a day and I had. So that was really empowering. And here I am 76 years old. I've been running for 64 years. And every day I run I have that sense of empowerment. And no matter how crappy the day turns out, I've had my run. And it is God's gift. It really is everything to me. And it is so simple. So easy, so cheap. So you can see why I was so motivated to keep on running go running further. And to change other women's lives to try to get them to take those first steps. It was just everything.

Kristina:

I love it so much. So let's fast forward a little bit and tell us more about later in high school and into college.

Unknown:

Okay, so into high school, this sense of empowerment, let me have the courage and the bravery to try out for other things. One of them was working on this high school newspaper. I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up, and I was noticing that the girls sports didn't get any publicity at all, which really teed me off so i said i I'll start writing about girls sports. And they were going to publish anything I wrote. So we got a lot of good ink and people were showing up at our games too. And at that time also, you know signing my name Catherine Switzer was fraught because the typesetter would correct the Katherine to keep the E and get normally in a Catherine my father misspelled my name on my birth certificate, you left out the E. So I kept getting annoyed with my byline being misspelled. So I started signing my name KB Switzer because I was in love with JD Salinger and E Cummings and TS Eliot so that KB Switzer was cool for a sports writer, all the guys with their initials anyway. So time went on, I wrote more. I did a lot of stuff in high school. I played all kinds of sports, but it was a running that was important to me. When I went to Syracuse University to study journalism at the great Newhouse School. By that time, of course, I was signing my name KB, Switzer, and I was really into wanting to write sports, which was very unusual. When I got to Syracuse University, it was kind of appalled to find that they had 25 Sports room then all scholarship deep, or something like 150 scholarships were all alone. And women had zero.

Kristina:

Let me just stop you right there, Katherine, because just in reading your book, hearing you, I was born in 1968. And even I am still learning how things were in the past. What year was that? I mean, that's shocking.

Unknown:

Well, when I got to Syracuse, I'd been two years at another college. Okay. And when I got to Syracuse, you Sue 1966. This is a big university. There's no women's teams period, that intermurals and they had once a year, something called a play day. They were they invited other schools, they said, My God, my my high school is more competitive than this big university. So by this time, I was running three miles a day. Well, honestly, you think I was talking a walk, right? I mean, who runs more than three miles a day? Well, the guys in the cross country team, do training into at least six or 10 miles a day. And so I went to the men's coach at Syracuse University and asked if I couldn't run on the men's team, and he was a little back footed and he said no Oh, you can't it's against NCAA rules, but we would welcome you if you wanted to train with the team. So I said, that's good enough for me. So as I left his office door, and I was pulling it shut, I heard him burst out laughing and say to his colleagues, I guess I got rid of her. Oh, boy. Oh, boy. So now what are you going to do? Right? So this was, you know, she's brave. But podcast. This is my moment of bravery. I said, you know, you can do two things. You can just run by yourself and pedal along or you can show up. So I went out there showed up the next day, and he was very surprised. You know what another great thing. All the men came over to me and said, This is great. You know, we've never had a girl before. You know, we're with you all the way. Welcome, welcome, welcome. They were terrific. And I realized then that running is different. You know, nobody was jealous or competitive. They were just welcoming. You runners don't care. They don't care whether you're what your gender is, or your color, your income, your size, or your age, everybody wants to run.

Kristina:

Yeah, my son is just starting college this fall. And he did cross country and track and loved it. And it's so fascinating. He would go to these huge meats, and everybody cheers for everybody. Even the very last person would get cheers and applause it's such a beautiful sport. It really

Unknown:

is. And one guy in particular was the volunteer coach. He had been training with these guys for 30 years. He was old. He was 50. You know, I was 19. He was 50. Ancient. But he had run 15 Boston marathons. He was so excited, oh my God, we've never had a girl before. And he saw how slow I was, you know, these guys were good. These were scholarship boys. And he came over sort of put me under his wing. And he said, Oh, you know, I got hurt in my Achilles or bad. But, you know, we jog together. And he brought me along very, very slowly, simply by talking to me and telling me these wonderful stories about the Boston Marathon. And so, you know, as the weeks and months then went by, I fell in love with the idea of going 26.2 miles. And I told him that on a snowy night, once this year, it always snows in Syracuse in case you don't know that. So this one night, I argued with him. And I said, Let's go talking about Boston and run it. And he said, but a woman can't run it. And I said, What do you mean? And he said, a woman's physiologically not capable of running 26 miles. And then my hackles went up on my neck. And I said, I know I can do this. And I said, besides, a woman ran the Boston marathon last year, Roberta Gibb had jumped out of the bushes in 1966. didn't wear a number, but she ran, she ran well. And Arnie, like so many people didn't believe it. I just couldn't believe a woman did it. And I said, Look, I know I can do this. And he said, you'd have to show it to me. In fact, if you showed me a practice, I would be the first person to take you. So I always have these kinds of goals. Somebody says something like that. I said, this is a dream come true. And also I had a training partner at a plan. And we began really training in earnest for the Boston Marathon. And the distances went up. And sometimes it was hard. Sometimes it was easy. But the day we ran 26.2 miles, when we were finishing the distance, he was going, Oh, my God, I can't believe it. You look great. And I said, you know, Ernie, his name is Arnie bricks and said RNA. I don't think this is long enough. And he said, What do you mean is I think it's short. And he says, no, no, no, it's long. No, I said down as run another five miles. And he said, Can you run another five? And I said, Sure, can you? Because Anyway, well laughs while he's losing it. He's all over the road. And come on. Come on. We can do this. Oh, we've finished 31 miles now. Right. That's amazing. It is amazing. And, and I threw my arms around it. We did. We did. Are we going to Boston? And he passed out? Okay. Yeah. Hey, I said, I said I woke up You it. Women have hidden potential differences.

Kristina:

And limits so much women have immune potential. Well, it's not so hidden anymore Is it kind of

Unknown:

isn't. That's the point. We discovered something in 1966. That is changing the face of women's sports. We don't have the speed and the power and the strength of men. Okay, doesn't make make us worse. Athletes. It makes us different athletes, because men don't have the stamina, the endurance, the flexibility, the balance that we have. Were just having sports for the first time in the Olympics for about 50 years. Men have had the Olympic Games for 3000 years. I mean, it is amazing what's happening and what we're doing now. I mean, what era for any woman athlete right now to realize that that she has everything open to her? What an era for women like you Hotelling message? What about the women in the C suite who are making decisions of sponsorship money and TV right? I mean, come on. It is a golden era to be involved. It's

Kristina:

totally, totally agree. And I think a lot of us didn't realize the impact that you made. Because after I want you to go into the day that you ran the Boston Marathon, but I also want to share with you a story, personal story of me. I was born in 1968. I grew up in Canada and Vancouver. And at age nine, we had what was called our gym teacher had a kilometer run, because, you know, Canada kilometer, so it was all around this school property. And this kilometer run, you could run either 50 kilometers 100 or 150, or 200. My brother did it. It was every morning, half an hour after school. And boys and girls were all involved. And I was nine at the time, I took it for granted. I always saw women running. My brother was one of the very few of the whole school that did 200 kilometers in a month. But I did 150 kilometers in a month. But you know, Catherine, I look back on that. And I completely took it for granted that women ran because by that time, women were running, I'd see women running when we were out driving around in the car woman would go out for a jog, you know, in PE we all ran and then I hear your story. And it all started with you doing the Boston Marathon. So tell us about that day?

Unknown:

Well, I would say it all started with me during the Boston Marathon. There were other women who had run the marathon. The reason why people think it started with maybe it's because of that amazing photograph, I mean, because that went around the world. But I'll tell the story, and then they'll care about the photograph. So Arne and I had done the distance, and he then came to my dormitory, and he said, Look, you've got to register for the race. And here I've got the entry forms. And I said, I don't know if I entered the race if I'm allowed to do that. And he said, Well, look, there's nothing about gender in the rulebook. There's nothing about gender on the entry floor. And I said, Yeah, but you know, they just don't think that a woman would be there. So it doesn't make any difference. You're one of us and you, you're registered. And he said, you know, you're a serious athlete, you're a member of the Athletic Union, you have to pay your entry fee, you show your card, you put down your registration number. I said, no, no. And then most amazing thing, and I said, you know, Arnie, if I show up at Boston wearing a number, I'm going to be noticed. And he said, Yeah, I know, when I'm proud of you. I mean, that was so amazing. And I'm proud of you. I mean, as a 15 year old guy was essentially putting himself on the line for a 19 year old girl. Yes. mazing. Anyway, filled out the entry form. Of course, I signed it. cavies Switzer, I didn't do that to defraud the officials. Not that's how I'd been signing my name. And that's how I sent the entry form it. So they thought that Kay was Kurt carrier Kim, but not Katherine. Right, obviously, and assign me a number. We went to Boston, Arne and me and then a guy in the cross country team John, he didn't register. He just was going to go for the run. And my boyfriend Tom, who was a 235 pounds, all American football player. I said, Tom, please don't come to Boston. And he said, Well, girl can run it. I can run it. I mean, he thought it was all a joke, right? And I said, No, no, you got to train. And he said, No, no, if a girl can do it, I can do it. So anyway, he came along and he registered. Anyway, off we went, you know, Arnie went in and picked up our big numbers. It was a really, really cold and rainy day. So we had on our heavy sweat suits rather than shorts on top. I was disappointed, you know, I mean, it looked really good. I'd made a nice outfit and I wanted to look good. But I had to wear my baggy grey sweats because it was really freezing. In fact, worse conditions at Boston in history except for 2018 which, which really tucked in. So it was headwind and cold and rain and sleet. So it was really miserable. And the officials were very disorganized because they wanted to get the race on time and everything was behind trucks and equipment and all that kind of stuff. So they were checking off our big numbers and they were just pushing us into the starting area. And Arnie said see the no problem we just checked your number off. And I said okay, great. And all the guys again were wonderful saying you know, I wish my wife would run I wish my girlfriend would run and gun went off and down the street. We went in and we were all laughing and having a good time because you do when you're just there to finish and you know you're not going to be hurting for about 30 k's and then you get really hairy Yeah, we got about a mile and a half down the road and the press truck came by is taking pictures and really getting excited looking at the program and seeing KV Switzer was a girl taking a lot of photographs. And behind them came the press bus and on the press bus were the race director and the co director and the race director gotten the bottom of the bus and shouted at me and I couldn't go but he was shouting it but pushed past him came the the co director, a guy by the name of Joe oximeter, it was a very feisty Scotsman. And he went down the street after me. And I didn't see him. But I heard him at the last moment, because his shoes, were going faster. And they were scraping. And I turned and when I turned this fierce face was right in my face. And he screamed at the top of his lungs, get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers. And then tried to rip off my big numbers. There they are, by the way, I love

Kristina:

it. So some of you who are listening, she's holding up her actual bib number 261. Yeah,

Unknown:

so I kept the one on the front. But this is actually the one from the back. Because when he missed the one on the front, because I jumped away from him. He went to the back and he ripped that

Kristina:

corner. Yeah, I see the ribbon corner. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. Okay,

Unknown:

so now there's the story with that, too. And I just went, Oh, you know, like that. I mean, I was really scared. I didn't know what was going on. He blindsided me. And Arne says, Leave her alone. She's okay. I've trained her and he smacked my coach away. And without a sound, big Tom, via X, all American football player, came cut through the crowd with incredible shoulder charge, and didn't touch anybody else. But took him out, claimed him right out, just sending him flies in the air. I don't know how, oh my god, I never seen any kind of violence like that up close and hit like that. And Artie screamed, unlike hell, because we he was scared to I thought we'd kill the sufficient. Tom was steam was really coming out of his years. He was correct. I kill that guy. And I said, Oh, my God, you know. And anyway, the press truck, of course, photographed the whole thing. And then they hung with me a long time and gotten very belligerent. What are you trying to prove? Are you a suffragette? Are you Crusader, so I'm just trying to run a watch, I'm just trying to run. Then the press truck came by us again, at on it was this guy job simple, who Tom had knocked down. I was so relieved to see him because I thought he had really heard him. And he shook his fist status in his Scottish brogue scream, you all are in big trouble. And everybody you know, in the field is gonna give him the finger and say, Get out of here. And I just put my head down. Oh, I was so scared. And at that moment, when I have I read this race, Have I done something really so awful? Oh, my God, this is terrible. This is the Boston Marathon. And oh, my God, I'm in such trouble. And Arne just looked at me. And the look was what do you want to do? You know, and I said, Arnie, I gotta stay in the race. They expect me to drop out. And they think that women can't do it. We ran 31 Miles last week, we know we can do it. And so he said, Okay, are you going to stay and I said, I'm gonna stay, I'm gonna finish on my hands on my knees if I have to Arnie. And the press heard this. And they I said, you might as well go in, go up to the front where you belong. I said, I'm gonna be here a long time. Because I already said, let's just pull it back. Let's just get it together, no matter what we got to finish now. And I sit down, finish, no worries. So time went on. And we got to Heartbreak Hill. And that's when all the anger went because you know, your emotions go, and you're just on fumes. Anyway, it was 21 miles, so about 32 case, 34 case. And I realized it wasn't the officials fault, after I had murdered him every way a person could be murdered. And I suddenly realized, he's a product of his time. He is just how people think men and women that don't belong there. Women are doing something inappropriate. This is not a proper social behavior. Women can't do it any way. They're saying women always are barging into places where they're not welcome. And then they can't do it. Well, of course, they can't do it. If they barge into a place and somebody hits some, you know? And suddenly I thought, okay, look, he's a lot older. And he is a product of his time. That's all he knows about women is that they're probably incapable, okay, so I'll forgive him. And it my job is going to be to change his mind. But a bigger job is somehow to give women the lack of fear so that they can come and participate. And I didn't know what that looked like, because I was getting angry at women then. Because I said, where are they? Why aren't they here? And this is such a wonderful, cheap and easy thing to do. So I said, Okay, I don't know what that looks like. I'm going to finish this race. I'm going to greet undoubtably some more irascible, press at the finish line. And then I'm going to train hard and I'm going to become a better athlete. And I'm going to work on changing jobs simple and minded and guys like it. So when I crossed the finish line, that's exactly what happened. There was a very cranky journalists there, who were giving me a lot of grief and I gave back grief if you want to know the truth. I was surprised at myself. 50 years later, when I wrote my book, and I looked at some of the comments I made in the newspaper. I said, Well, you were really much more feisty. I remember your bid. One guy said to me, he said, This is a one off deal, right? You just running this for fun, and to make his publicity stunt correct? And I said, Let me tell you something. The marathon is not fun. It's a serious race. And I said, and asked for not running again, I'm going to run forever. Oh, I love that. And I said, One day, you're gonna read about a little old lady who's 80 years old, who drops dead in Central Park on her run, and that's going to be neat. Well, of course, now, I've dialed that up. But anyway, that's what I did. You know, I just went back to the drawing board, you know, suck up my pride, started training hard. And began one guy said, you know, your club has been banned. And I said, okay, too bad for them. I'll we'll form a new club. So I went and formed a new club. And we started taking leadership roles in organization. The AAU after a year, Amateur Athletic Union, reinstated me after expelling me and throwing out our club and expelling RNA and expelling Tom. And we created a club in the club garage, one of the biggest clubs in New York, not as big as the New York Road Runners. But I took on legislative work as well learn how the game is played, you know, you got to go from the inside, you know, what are the rules? Okay, let's work on changing these rules. Other women join me, we worked on changing the rules at Boston, we worked very diligently, kindly. We're not ugly to anybody. And we finally got women official in the Boston Marathon. It took five years of constantly showing up and running. But a really great thing happened last year to 2022. There were eight of us women who could qualify for the Boston Marathon in 19 7280 of us registered eight others showed up, eight of us finished. And 50 years later, six of us are left standing. And we had a fabulous reunion. And even the clothing line from adidas was dedicated to us with Oh, that's beautiful. My signature in it, which was really, really amazing. Yeah, you know, it's great to see these changes. But then from then on, you know, I really devoted myself to creating change for women, by giving them the opportunity was the same old thing, you know, I knew that women could participate if they only had an opportunity. So how is that going to happen? Well, I started organizing women's only races, which were feminine, non intimidating, but serious, very serious and up to Olympic standard. I went and got Avon to help me with the sponsorship, they were willing to put in 1000s, and even millions as it turned out. We eventually had over 400 races in 27 countries for over a million women. And the data and statistics from those were put together and a report, which I did took to the International Olympic Committee lobbied them. And we got the women's marathon voted into the Olympic Games for the first time in 1984.

Kristina:

Okay, I just have to get so huge. I just, you know, when I first read that, that there was no women's marathon in the Olympics until 1984. That's shocking to me. I was in high school. I mean, wow, like it took a long time. It took a long time.

Unknown:

Can I tell you that is considered warp speed. For the IOC. We didn't do the 5010 1000. We went right to the marathon. And we lobbied for that. And of course, we thought we were going to get the other events too. But when they gave us the choice, they said you're going to get one what is it going to be? We said the marathon? No question, because we thought they would relent. But they didn't. We just had the marathon and a 3000. And then over the years later, we got the five or 10. But when John Benoit semis are one, that marathon, it was critically important, because that was the longest running event in the Olympic Games for men or for women. And it gave us equality at that level. And to me, it was as important as giving women the right to vote, because people around the world knew how far 42.2 kilometers or 26.2 Miles is because they've all done the distance, whether they've driven it or ridden a bike or walked it or ridden a donkey over the distance. I know it's far. So that was hugely important. Because 2.2 billion people watched it on television. Oh my god. Yes, that's the thing. And that's what's going to change. Continually. Women's Sports is the visibility and the sponsorship to make it happen. And it's just like, I've always said, you know, talents everywhere. You just need to give it the opportunity and look what happens, you know, build it and they'll come remember that bill.

Kristina:

Absolutely. I want to touch on a moment that just almost makes me tear up. It's about your relationship with jock, the man who literally was running behind you and trying to get you out of the race and trying to tear off your number. Tell us about what happened late. They're in your relationship with him. Well,

Unknown:

of course, right away, I've forgiven him. And so some of the headlines two days after the race said, Marathon girl forgiving, he was not forgiving. He called a press conference, he said, four hours and 20 minutes to run a marathon. I couldn't walk it that fast. So he held this grudge for years. But he was watching us systematically work away on the rules and doing it correctly and showing up and running. And finally, he had to welcome us into that 1972 Boston Marathon. So very begrudgingly, he gave me my trophy for second place, and then kind of warmed up. And then we became very good friends. And we would do talks and interviews together and panel launches. And when he wrote his book, for instance, I was surprised guest and when I had a press conference for women's running, I would have him as my surprise guest. It was fun. And then, many years later, when he was dying, I went to see him in the hospital just a few hours before. And people said, Wow, that's a lot of forgiveness. I just want to say that sometimes the worst thing is in your life can become the best. And how can I not love somebody who gave the world one of the greatest photographs in women's rights history and civil rights history? I mean, it's the picture of him attacking me in the race of my boyfriend backing him has gone around the world a million times. And, you know, it's so funny. I remember leaving the hospital like, like you're getting right now a little teary eyed with some friends. And yeah, I said, you know, I said, Jock was really, really important in running. He helped organize so many amazing events in the Boston Marathon. He saved it was his baby. I must admit, you know what? The New York Times tomorrow on the obituary is going to use that picture. Because the world will always remember him for attacking a girl in the race. And really jocks final words for me, to me were, I made you famous last. And I made you famous. Do

Kristina:

you know I love that story so much. And I think part of it is that even your worst enemy can literally become your best friend, because I did hear you even say that you were so close to him. Yeah. Later in life. He was like a best friend to you. It was a best

Unknown:

friend. Yeah, it's just,

Kristina:

it's such a great, great story.

Unknown:

I know you're getting ready to ask them. Yeah, a lot. 261,

Kristina:

you read my mind?

Unknown:

I'm glad you're going to because when you think some things are over, and that the accomplishment is made, like when we got the women's marathon in the Olympic Games, and I was asked by ABC to be the commentator for the event. And I remember walking away from the stadium and I said, Okay, you did it. You know, we got there. We're there. We're done. The world has seen it is unbelievable. It's sort of like having a baby, you know, you're feel so exhausted and happy with the accomplishment. And then about two weeks later, you go into this great postpartum funk. You know, like, Oh, my God, there's still so much to do look at what's ahead of me, because that was a great accomplishment for women who had the opportunity to train and become an athlete. What about all those women in Afghanistan or, or parts of South America or North Africa and women who every single day right now as we're talking are carrying water on their heads just to get water to their house, in a mud hut in Africa, in a law who's looking after them. And I got it if he if somehow they could run, which is easy, cheap and accessible, and get the educational program at the same time, they're gonna have a sense of vision and empowerment that will help them realize that they can control their life, but how can I get running to them? And I love running because it is cheap and easy, totally accessible. So I don't believe in magnets and crystals and signs, okay. But I had a sign. And the sign was is that many, many people began writing to me and emailing me and saying that the bib number 261 made them feel fearless. And then these emails in the photographs were coming in and people thinking it on their arms, and they kept using the word fearless. I couldn't do anything. You know, I mean, I was orphaned or I was rejected, or I'm getting over a divorce or I broke my leg or, you know, whatever. I started running and I realized I could do anything and I feel fearless. And I realized they were relating to the story, you know that they had been marginalized also, and that everybody in the world actually is told at one time or the other not good enough or not cool. are not attractive or whatever. They're not wanting us the wrong color. And yet they go in, they run in, they can do anything. And I said, I'm getting a powerful message here. And I told my girlfriend about it. And she said, you know, you better trademark that to six one. And I said, Oh, maybe not. And she said, Nikes gonna get it. You don't do it. And so I wouldn't trademarked it. And I said, I don't want to start another business. I'm too old for another revolution. And then we decided to create a nonprofit. And we created 261. Fearless. Oh,

Kristina:

I love it. Isn't that great?

Unknown:

Yeah, exactly with the with the ripped off corner with the fearless here, because that's what everybody used to six one fearless is now a very simple concept. It's a series, or let's say clubs, in different communities. And each community club has a coach or two or three, who are trained with our training program, which is not about being competitive, or judgmental, or going faster, getting ready for a marathon, it's about getting out the door. And taking the first step. It's about a safe space for women in a women's only community where you can share each other and talk and get your problem solved. And also run get empowerment. And now we have a really terrific educational programs where they can go online and get really great empowerment classes and learn how to take control their lives, you know, in many, many different ways, everything from nutrition and education, whether it's stretchy, or menopause or whatever. We've got it. We are five years old, we're already in 13 countries, 500 coaches, 5000 participants, and we're going great, you know, we're in some strange places like the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a strange, strange, challenging Albania today. But yeah, of course, US, France, UK, Germany, Austria, huge in those locations. But we welcome everybody. So please go to 261 fearless.org Read all about us, join us become a member, or start a club. We are very, very excited about the potential reverse because it really works. Because it's Woman to woman. And we also knew the opportunity.

Kristina:

Yeah. And I know it really works, Catherine, because I have a morning routine where I take my dog. And there are beautiful hiking trails right outside of Seattle and mountains and hills, and I hike and sometimes I jog. Sometimes I walk it sometimes I jog it. But that's when my most creative thoughts come into my head. And I will literally talk into my voice memo about my next thing in podcasting, I come home all the endorphins have me excited, all this creativity pours out of me, I feel empowered. I know it works. And that's what you're saying to and part of it is you're accomplishing something. And then it basically snowballs. Like, it leads to a next step, which leads to the next step. And it's just incredible the work that you're doing. And I really want to acknowledge that nonprofit that you are doing. I do have a one other question for you. That I want to ask because I'm actually teaching a podcasting class right now, for women who are starting in podcasting. And a lot of what comes up is a dip and feeling discouraged having a day or even more than one day of, you know, trying to muscle through things. And you obviously know how to deal with discouragement. So tell us a little bit more share with us how you cope with discouragement.

Unknown:

Well, everything sounds like is really wonderful in my life. And actually I've had huge setbacks in the last few years. Try this as a fundraiser stunt, I jumped off a high dive in Wellington, New Zealand, thinking it would be a way to raise $3,000 For my club, and I broke my back. So that put me in bed for for the better part of three months and thinking I was never going to walk again. And of course, then while that was going on, I was going to get going through incredible stress, thinking how am I going to cope? Right? How am I going to start figuring these different things out? And as soon as I got well from that, and actually was running again, and I'm so grateful, oh god, I just couldn't believe it. I got shingles. Because this, you know, shingles comes from stress. And of course, what happened is it manifested behind my eye. And I really had a very bad vision problems, a lot of pick, but when you age, unfortunately, I had to learn this, because I was going along at I mean, at 70 I ran the Boston Marathon and I you know, was like Yeah, yeah, fantastic run. And I thought, oh, you know, I'm unbreakable. Right? Well, that's not true. You are you're very breakable. You're very vulnerable. And as you get older, I had to deal with the depression of thinking, you know, what is the endgame here? You know what one thing ever Lanches into the other. And so you know, broken back avalanches into shingles avalanches into AI problems that I can't drive. Oh my god. So how do I get over those things? Well, first of all, you're lucky to be alive. Second of all, you know, if you can still go out, put one foot in front of the other, that is the key thing for me. Because it gets me close to nature, you helps me put things in perspective comes my soul. And as you say, you write it down, and then you start feeling really good about yourself. But when you can't get out and run, what do you do? You say, Okay, you know, I'm going to do something else productive. And that gives me a sense of reward or, or hope, right? And whether it's looking into all different kinds of alternative medicines or whatever, talking to people, you start coming around. But yeah, just because I sound like I'm very all powerful doesn't mean an uncle. It's usually incredibly deep funk sometimes. But I refuse to let it get me down too much. You know, it's just sort of at your age when you're 7016. You look in the mirror and you say, what happened? Yeah, this isn't the face I even had last year. But you're right, back to running a running pretty well. antastic. Yeah. And that's, that makes the huge difference to me. Yeah,

Kristina:

I also heard you in another interview, talk about something that's relatable to everyone. And one of the things, obviously, that works is even a 10 minute walk around the block. Sometimes that 10 minute walk will turn into 20 or 30. And even just like the tackling of the task, oh, I really need to sit down and, you know, write a chapter of my book, oh, I'm just going to set the 10 minute timer, and do it. And I know, that's how you tackle it, too, is that you have said, Oh, sometimes I'll just take a tiny, little piece because I'm sure not every day you wake up being super excited to run your nonprofit, it's a lot of work. Well, hobbies, tasks and things that you have to do that you're just like, I don't feel like doing this today. So how do you handle that?

Unknown:

I kind of beat myself up a little bit. When I say you know, they really don't want to do this. They say what you really plan this improperly, you should have done this XYZ way. Or, in my case, I always bite off more than I can chew. Or I don't delegate. I've got really smart people around me. And some of them I pay actually. So it's their job, and I should delegate it to them. And it's just that, you know, I've got to stop this, oh, I can do it faster than they can do it anyway. Because, in fact, maybe you can't. And they deserve the opportunity. And in fact, you know, that's part of being older is to give somebody the opportunity to do it. So they learn, you know, even if you have to beat him over the head a little bit subject. But yeah, what I try to do is find better balance. But you know, I'm really not very good at that, because I'm on the go all the time. And I always say yes to to anything like podcasts, oh my gosh,

Kristina:

this has been a total ball. And I have a surprise for you encounter. I am so inspired by you by your book, and you being interviewed, and what you're doing in the world that I'm donating $1,000 to your nonprofit. Like what you're doing so so thank

Unknown:

you, thank you so much for your generosity, really, it'll go a long way.

Kristina:

Good. I'm happy to hear that because you have made these gigantic ripples throughout the entire world. Because it was just so interesting. When I even thought of my own life. You know, my nine year old self in 1977, running 150 kilometers for in the month of April. I mean, you were a big part of changing women's lives for the better. And I think so many of us never even knew it. And you didn't know me, obviously. And I don't think you'll ever really know the magnitude of what you did. It's incredible. And you are incredible. And that's why I needed to have you on my podcasts. I was like, I have to have you you are so incredibly brave. You're this incredible, brave example. And you also break it down as to how you got that way. And that's absolutely fantastic. And even if you didn't have a dad, like your dad was kind of the colonel right like he started you know, like, why do you want to be the cheerleader? Why do you want to be on the sidelines? Like why don't you want to be in the game and every mom and dad out there today needs to hear that for their daughters and their sons and you're such a great example of the bravery and also in how you handle things and then also the beautiful story of forgiveness. There's so much to this. Anything else that you'd like to add? Catherine?

Unknown:

Yes, you You heard me say earlier that talent is everywhere, it only needs an opportunity. And so you and I are talking about giving people the opportunity, you have a voice, I'm programmed. But if you aren't given the opportunity, if you aren't lucky enough, like I was to have a dad and or RNA or whatever, give yourself the opportunity. I love to say, Nobody gives me an opportunity. You go and you keep yourself. Yeah. Okay. You say, Well, I can't run a marathon, and it will give yourself the opportunity to try. Yeah, and that is the thing that really changes things is your attitude about it. So you know, I think most people, I have a very difficult time with thinking that they have lack of opportunities, but you can create your own.

Kristina:

You totally agree. 100%

Unknown:

this is another thing I've seen with getting women started was running all of a sudden, they realized, especially in 261, fearless, they realized, you know what? I'm going to finish that education, I'm going to finish that degree, I'm gonna go back. Or they they go to their boss, and they say, You know what, I really deserve a raise. And they go, Oh, all right. Or maybe it's time to leave a bad relationship. And you think, I don't really need to be unhappy all my life. Yep, you know, that song slip after Jack bad turning the key. I love that song. Give yourself the opportunity. Oh,

Kristina:

Catherine, that's exactly what I'm doing it, I'm just doing it a different way. I'm doing it through podcasting, getting women's voices all around the world everywhere. You know, giving women the opportunity to share their voice in your case, share your wisdom, your life story, and encourage them to be there on their authentic self. Right? I have learned to do that, too. I'm 55 now. And it took me a long time to get to the place of authenticity, it really wasn't until my 40s that I started breaking out and realizing that I was never really going to be happy or free. Until I learned how to be authentic 100% authentic to myself and not worry about what the neighbors think. So thank you for being a part of this.

Unknown:

Thank you. And thank you for having this wonderful show and reaching so many people out there. That's really great.

Kristina:

And before we go, my listeners are going to want to know how to get a hold of you. So let us know where we can get in touch with you.

Unknown:

Sure. First, I'd like everybody to go to 261 fearless.org but you can go to my website also, which is really marathon woman.com which is the name of my book, Marathon mimics marathon woman.com. This has become a website and industry unto itself. And there's a little thing up there how to contact Katherine.

Kristina:

Wonderful. Love, love. Love your book, too, by the way.

Unknown:

It's going to be a motion picture. I'll let you know. We'll do another poll. I

Kristina:

love that. I am so excited to hear that. That makes me so happy. I can't wait to see it. And yes, let's connect again. You are so inspiring. Thank you so much Catherine Switzer.

Unknown:

Thank you.

Kristina:

Hey, everyone. Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy life to listen to today's episode. I love learning about what makes you brave. I'm here with you. I see you. I hear you and I want to hear from you. I want to know how you're showing up as being brave and authentic. Connect with me on Instagram at she's brave podcast or come join our community in the she's brave podcast Facebook group. I'm sending you so much love. Until next time. Keep being brave.

(Cont.) RUN YOUR WAY TO EMPOWERMENT with Kathrine Switzer