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Saturday, 19 October 2019

Review: Her Fearless Run

Full of inspiration, optimism and challenge, the story of Kathrine Switzer’s Boston Marathon run will resonate with anyone who has dreamed of achieving great things.

In 1959, Kathrine was twelve when she discovered the magic of running - something that for girls was unheard of at that time. 

At 17, she was running laps on the track at Lynchburg College, one of the few schools where women were allowed to run in men’s races. 

After interviewing teammates for the school newspaper, the longing to run a marathon burned inside her.

It was at Syracuse University that the men’s running coach allowed her to practice with the men as there wasn’t a women’s running team.

Arnie Briggs, a volunteer team manager, started running with her every day. To pass the time he told her stories about the Boston Marathon which he had run fifteen times, but ‘women…can’t run that long’ he told her. But Kathrine believed that with training she could run the twenty-six miles. Through snow and rain she ran, increasing her miles until she passed the twenty-six mile mark.

Training was the smallest obstacle. For seventy years, only men had worn an official race number. Kathrine checked the rule book. There was no stipulation that only men could run. So she filled in her forms and ran with the number 261.

Her appearance caused a stir. A man tried to tear off her number and get her off the track. But Kathrine continued regardless. She was also running to prove that women weren’t ‘too weak, too fragile’ to run.

Kathrine became a role model to many girls who discovered the freedom of running.

Teaming up with Avon, the first Avon International Marathon was organised. A campaign followed to include the women’s marathon in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984. Kathrine was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in1998, followed in 2011 by the National Women’s Hall of Fame. 

Her non-profit organisation 261* Fearless continues to empower women’s lives through running clubs around the world. The 50th anniversary of the Boston Marathon saw Kathrine run again in 2017, officially retiring her bib number at the end.

Title: Her Fearless Run
Author: Kim Chaffee
Illustrator: Ellen Rooney
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, $26.99
Publication Date: April 2019
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781624146541
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Grade Non-Fiction / Biography 



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