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Kathrine Switzer: Running Gave Me The Courage To Try New Things02:53
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In 1967, challenging the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer entered the race. Two miles in, a race official tried to physically remove her from the course. To mark 50 years since that day, Switzer will run the 2017 race. (AP)MoreCloseclosemore
In 1967, challenging the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer entered the race. Two miles in, a race official tried to physically remove her from the course. To mark 50 years since that day, Switzer will run the 2017 race. (AP)

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When I was 12 years old, my father told me I’d have a better chance of making the field hockey team if I ran a mile each day.

A mile a day sounded like a lot; I didn’t think I could do it.

I made the team that year. But running my daily mile became more important than field hockey. Running gave me the courage to try new things.

And that sense of empowerment has been with me my whole life.

It was with me at the Boston Marathon in 1967, when the race director tried to push me out of the race and tear the racing bib — number 261 — from my body, just because I was a woman.

That empowerment has stayed with me, as I’ve worked to make sure that women everywhere have the opportunity to run.

I believe running transforms women. That simple act of putting one foot in front of the other gives a woman a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

Whether she’s from Indiana or India, running gives a woman the courage to do what she thinks she cannot: leave a bad relationship, find a better job, get an education.

Kathrine Switzer, center, the first official woman entrant in the Boston Marathon 50 years ago, wears the same bib number after finishing the marathon on Monday. With Switzer are her husband Roger Robinson, left, and Joann Flaminio, right, of the Boston Athletic Association. (Elise Amendola/AP)
Kathrine Switzer, center, the first official woman entrant in the Boston Marathon 50 years ago, wears the same bib number after finishing the marathon on Monday. With Switzer are her husband Roger Robinson, left, and Joann Flaminio, right, of the Boston Athletic Association. (Elise Amendola/AP)

Zahra Arabzada was born in Afghanistan. She was 9 years old when she ran her first race — clad in her school uniform and headscarf. Zahra won a bicycle. But because she was a girl, she wasn’t allowed to ride it.

The bicycle hung idle over the stove in her family’s kitchen. Seeing it every day motivated her to leave Afghanistan to attend to school in the United States. She still marvels at the privilege of being able to run outside every day.

When I ran my first Boston, I was the only woman to have an official marathon bib number. Last year, the 50th anniversary of my race, more than 12,000 women were with me at the starting line in Hopkinton.

Running has already created a social revolution in the United States. When women in every part of the world can run freely, we can change the world.

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This segment aired on April 16, 2018.

Related:

Kathrine Switzer Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. She is the founder of 261 Fearless, a global nonprofit running network for women.

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