In 1967, Kathrine Switzer registered to run in the Boston Marathon under the pseudonym "K.V. Switzer." During a time when women were not allowed to run in marathons (women couldn't officially run in the Boston Marathon until 1972), 20-year-old Switzer was the first woman to cross the finish line, but it wasn't without putting up a fight. She was maliciously attacked by a race official, who tried to grab her race bib, number 261. Switzer finished the marathon that day, but her race to the finish line fueled her mission to let women qualify for races in the future.
On Monday, April 17, 70-year old Switzer put on her number 261 bib as she partook in the Boston Marathon once again, exactly 50 years after that life-changing race she entered as "K.V." Her number will be retired after the race, but it's her incredible story that 261 will always be remembered for.
Since that 1967 race, Switzer has run 39 marathons and even won the New York City Marathon in 1974, but Switzer did not stop there. She founded 261 Fearless, a running club for women, which pays tribute to her bib number from that fateful first marathon. The non-profit is described as "a global community of women, be she a walker, jogger, and runner, who have found strength, power, and fearlessness from putting one foot in front of the other."
It's Switzer's incredible story that has empowered women all over the globe to run freely in marathons, and at the 2017 marathon, she was given the huge honor of firing the gun for the women's elite runners.