My day with Kathrine Switzer

As I was telling you all in my last post I had an awesome big surprise for you.

There’s an online running community called ” adidas Runners London “. A few weeks ago they told us that Kathrine Switzer will attend their Saturday Morning Ladies running session. Had to sign up via Facebook and then a few days later I was notified that I got a spot and be able to attend to the Q&A and running session with her.

When I first started running I came across with her. At first I had no idea who was she, and what did she do. After I’ve looked into her and purchased her books I realised what did she do. If you not familiar with her story , you can read it below briefly:

1967 Boston Marathon

After her coach insisted a marathon was too far to run for a "fragile woman", Switzer trained for and completed the 1967 Boston Marathon under entry number 261 with the Syracuse Harriers athletic club.It was another five years before women were officially allowed to compete. Her finishing time of approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes was nearly an hour behind the first female finisher, Bobbi Gibb, who ran unregistered.She registered under the gender-neutral "K. V. Switzer", which she said was not done to mislead the officials. She stated she had long used "K. V. Switzer" to sign the articles she wrote for her university paper. She also stated that her name had been misspelled on her birth certificate, so she often used her initials to avoid confusion. Photographs of race official Jock Semple attempting to rip Switzer's number off were widespread in the media.

Switzer was issued a number through an "oversight" in the entry screening process, and was treated as an interloper when the error was discovered. Semple attempted to physically remove her from the race while shouting, "Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!" Switzer's boyfriend, Tom Miller, a 235-pound ex-All American football player and nationally ranked hammer thrower who was running with her, shoved Semple aside and sent him flying to the pavement, allowing her to proceed.Photographs taken of the incident made world headlines.

Afterward, Boston Athletic Association director Will Cloney was asked his opinion of Switzer competing in the race. Cloney said, "Women can't run in the Marathon because the rules forbid it. Unless we have rules, society will be in chaos. I don't make the rules, but I try to carry them out. We have no space in the Marathon for any unauthorized person, even a man. If that girl were my daughter, I would spank her."

Because of her run, the AAU barred women from all competitions with male runners, with violators losing the right to compete in any races. Switzer, with other women runners, tried to convince the Boston Athletic Association to allow women to participate in the marathon. Finally, in 1972, women were officially allowed to run the Boston Marathon for the first time.

According to Switzer, she understood the gravity of her participation and accomplishment: "I knew if I quit, nobody would ever believe that women had the capability to run 26-plus miles. If I quit, everybody would say it was a publicity stunt. If I quit, it would set women’s sports back, way back, instead of forward. If I quit, I’d never run Boston. If I quit, Jock Semple and all those like him would win. My fear and humiliation turned to anger."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathrine_Switzer
https://kathrineswitzer.com

I’ve started my day early, had to leave Andover by 7.30am to get to London and then walk to the Adidas studio. I didn’t want  to be late, because the email said no late comers. I had one chance to get there so I left really early.

When I got up to London I knew that this day will be great. Sunshine, and incredibly hot weather, no clouds on the sky.

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Had to make my way into the Adidas Studio in Brick Lane. At first I’ve walked past but 2nd time I found it. By the time I’ve got to the studio a few ladies were already there. A few of us were first comers, but most of them knew each other from their other running sessions.

Kathrine turned up just after 10.30am. She was so casual and friendly. I didn’t really know what to expect, because she’s totally famous but she was friendly, chatty and just lovely.

I went to speak with her, and she sounded really positive. Told her about my marathon goals, and she said I’m totally awesome to try to achieve something like that. Also told me to keep continue no matter what happens, think about my achievements when I feel down or struggle. And totally ignore the naysayers, they just there because the jealous about my running journey and achiements. Also been told that I’m totally awesome because I’m raising funds for all the charities I’m running  for ( MACS, Prostate cancer UK and Team Paws Chicago ) .

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After the photos the Q&A started. My phone was playing up so didn’t managed to record the first few minutes, but got almost 20 minutes of footage 🙂

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the interview is totally wort watching it, tells you everything about how she managed to run Boston, why is it important that women keep running, and she also gives a few tips about running 🙂 She also told us what ” 261 ” means, so do watch the video.

After the Q&A we headed out for a planned 10k run. Which turned into a shorter 5k run at the end. To my total surprise Karthine stayed with the back of the pack runners. This is felt great. Most of you know I’m not a fast runner, so my 5ks are around 35minutes, so was a bit worried I’ll be last. But who doesn’t want to be last if Kathrine is there with you.  She told me that the speed is not important, as long as I enjoy my runs and completing my distances. 5 of us stayed at the back including Kathrine and the rest of us took off and we lost sight of them after a few minutes. We stopped a few times to chat and she had selfies with all of us.

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As you can see below we did stop multiple times, because the elapsed time was almost 50 mins, but the run itself was only  37:40. But it was totally worth it.

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Waiting to cross the road

 

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Stopped for photos a lot. Who doesn’t want a photo with her and the Tower bridge?

When we got back to the studio we had a few different food to snack on and also healthy hand-made juices.

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Also just before I left I’ve got given a special Adidas Runners London t-shirt, now I will forever remember the day when I’m wearing that t-shirt. IMG_7008

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I had a totally awesome day. I never in my life thought I will meet with her, but now it happened I can’t me any happier. I really hope I will see her in Boston next year so can tell her how I managed to do my marathons.

Also just want to say that this event was totally free, didn’t have to pay ” meet & greet ” fees, photo fees, food and drink fees. I can’t even remember if I ever got anything for free in London before lol .

Kathrine also completed the London marathon on the Sunday, and her impressive finish time was 4:44:49 , which is totally hardcore because she was running in the 70+ age category. I hope I will be as great as her or close to her time when I’ll be 70+.

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I’m forever grateful that I had the opportunity to meet with her and talked with her.

Good luck Kathrine for the future 🙂

Love,

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