When I began my running journey just over 10 years ago now, I admittedly knew little about our sport, from what to wear and fuel with during a race, to an understanding of how women had only in recent history received recognition for their running abilities and achievements. All I knew was that the more I ran, the better I felt about myself.

Over time, as I ran with other women, created new friendships within the awesome running community, and ultimately realized logging miles and living healthy had become a lifestyle for me, I found I couldn’t get enough of learning anything and everything about running—especially distance running. I would eventually discover that 26.2 miles held a special place in my heart. Incredibly challenging and uniquely rewarding, both in training and in finishing, the marathon is a distance I keep coming back to. For this reason, I devoured the book Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon in 1967. This decision infuriated one of the race directors, who tried to physically remove her from the race because she was a female running in what was then considered an all-male event. The images of her struggle to continue running, helped by male runners, have become iconic in the history of sports and women.

First published in 2007, Marathon Woman is Kathrine’s personal story of how she overcame the odds—as well as prejudice and ridicule (not only from the male quarter)—to become one of the leading marathon runners of her time. Inspired by the incident, she went on to run 39 marathons—winning the New York City Marathon in 1974—and helped secure the women’s marathon as an event in the Olympic Games.

Kathrine has gone on to accomplish so much on behalf of our sport and women everywhere, and I was honored to have her as a guest on the Michigan Runner Girl Show. I also had the opportunity to have another strong and amazing woman join our conversation, to share her connection with Kathrine and Kathrine’s new non-profit 261 Fearless: marathoner and Michigan runner Leah Doriot, a dear friend of mine who is training for next month’s NYC Marathon. (She also happens to be a running partner of mine who joined me on this past weekend’s Ragnar Relay Michigan adventure!) {Listen to this episode with Kathrine and Leah by clicking on the player at the top of this post, or by downloading the episode using your favorite podcast app}

Michigan marathoner Leah Doriot, member of the 261 Fearless team running next month’s NYC Marathon.

The number ‘261’ is significant to Kathrine because it was her bib number at the 1967 Boston Marathon. At this fall’s NYC Marathon, she’ll lead a group of 13 dedicated “261 Fearless” runners, including Leah and 10 others from the USA (seven different states), and one each from Belgium and Switzerland. The women will all be raising $5,261 each to benefit the formation of 261 Fearless running clubs for women all over the world and their participation will be supported by adidas and Bose, global sponsors for 261 Fearless.

The three of us shared a great conversation that I am excited to share with you. (Leah and I definitely were pinching ourselves over the opportunity to speak with Kathrine, who truly has done so much for women—in sports and in living an authentic, empowered life.) Kathrine and Leah both talk about how running has transformed their lives, and I love that we talked about passing the torch to younger generations. Also, I can only hope that I’ll be running as strong as Kathrine is at her age of 70. So inspiring!

To learn more about Leah and her fundraising efforts for 261 Fearless, and to donate to this cause, please click here »

Her story also was recently featured in Grand Traverse Woman magazine. Check it out here »

The Michigan Runner Girl Show is made possible in part by the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

 If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. 

A special thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show. Check out this studio’s work here.

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