2017 Annual Baden Gala

Our Guest Speaker


Kathrine Switzer

Four months ago at the Boston Marathon, the world was pleasantly startled to learn that a 70-year old woman ran a marathon 50 years after she ran her first one. She was the first woman to ever do that, and she did it convincingly, in fact, only  24 minutes slower than she did her first marathon, at age 20.

In so doing, Kathrine Switzer broke yet another barrier in a lifetime of breaking barriers and simultaneously celebrated 50 years of women’s athletic AND social achievements.  She is our guest speaker today.

Kathrine Switzer is many things- an athlete, author, spokeswoman, commentator, and advocate. 

She earned her bachelors in journalism and English, as well as her Masters from Syracuse University. But she will always be best known as the woman who, in 1967, challenged the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon and became the first woman to officially enter and run the event. Her entry garnered worldwide attention when a race official tried to forcibly remove her from the competition. This was captured in a photo that became one of Time-Life’s “100 Photos that Changed the World.” 

Kathrine has run 40 marathons, won the 1974 New York City Marathon and in 1975, her two-hour and 51-minute marathon in Boston was ranked sixth in the world and third in the US. She has been a runner for 58 years.

Having been denied many athletic opportunities herself, Kathrine became a tireless advocate for female athletes and, after organizing a global series of 400 women’s races in 27 countries, she was instrumental in making the women’s marathon an official event in the Olympic Games, first staged in 1984 in Los Angeles.  She has advocated for women’s sports participation throughout the world and continues today with the creation of  “261 Fearless”, a global non-profit movement that empowers women through running.

She has won several Emmys for her sports commentary.  She has authored hundreds of articles and three books and is frequently interviewed about her marathon experience and her focus on female athlete advocacy.

She’s earned more awards than I can name, but a few highlights are being named “Runner of the Decade” and one of four “Visionaries of the Century” by Runner’s World magazine, and an Honor Fellow from the National Association of Girls and Women in Sports. Similarly, she is in several Halls of Fame, but none more important than the National Women’s Hall of Fame, where she was inducted not so much for her own running, but for changing millions of women’s lives through running.

When Kathrine won the NYC Marathon in 1974, the event was held entirely within Central Park. But she has never actually run through the five boroughs of the city; her 28 times through the streets of the marathon were as a commentator on the back of a TV motorcycle.  This Nov.5, she plans to lace up her sneakers again and actually run through those communities for the first time.  I COULD GO ON HERE, BUT WHO COULD INTRODUCE HER BETTER THAN MERYL STREEP?!!