Kathrine Switzer on Running: "Be Fearless"

Oct 22, 2015

Runner and author Kathrine Switzer first made headlines in 1967 when the Boston Marathon race commissioner yanked her from the course by her sweatshirt. Today, she’s written three books and tours the world spreading her message that anybody can run a marathon. She was keynote speaker at the IMT Marathon in Des Moines’ pasta dinner which took place Sunday, October 18.

She says it was great to see so many women running the marathon in Des Moines given the fact that women have really only recently been able to enter those races.

“In 1966, the longest event for women in the Olympics was 800 meters because it was generally believed that anything longer than that was too dangerous,” Switzer explains. “People thought she would get hurt, or turn into a man. Men also believed that it was an unfeminine thing for a woman to do.”

She describes her role over the weekend in Des Moines as "lead hugger." 

Today, Switzer has run nearly 40 marathons and has founded a non-profit, 261 Fearless, to encourage women to take up running. During this Talk of Iowa interview, she talks with Charity Nebbe about the shift in running culture that’s transformed the sport in the last 40 years. Switzer also talks about running her first Boston Marathon. She used her initials to to enter the race. 

“I signed K. V. Switzer because that’s how I always sign my name. I do that because I wanted to be a really great writer, and I wanted to be J.D. Salinger,” she says.