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Game Changing Women

March 9, 2018

Inspiration about Game Changing Women

A young 20 year old game changing woman in 1967 officially entered to run the Boston Marathon only to have its male race director attempt to push her out and rip off her bib number. This woman was Kathrine V. Switzer. By fate, I met Kathrine over the phone in 2015 when I searched the word “fearless” on Google looking for a female keynote speaker for my annual conference for women entrepreneurs. Little did I know who Kathrine was and the “game changer” she was until after my daring attempt to reach her by phone to ask her to speak.

Our first phone call lasted an hour as we found similarity in our passions to help women – hers in running and mine in entrepreneurship. By the time the phone call ended, Kathrine invited me to New York City to be part of a new organization called 261Fearless.org to empower women through running. I was one of 13 women who joined her that weekend to kick-off the first 261Fearless “Train the Trainer” program and lend support to this new global organization.

Since that phone call, I have blessed to be around Kathrine and understand the amazing woman she is not only in running but life as she enthusiastically meets and greets runners of all ages, genders and ability at races around the world. 261 Fearless opened my world to becoming a Boston Marathoner in 2017 when I completed the historic race with 110 women and (a few men) joining Kathrine on her 50th Anniversary gender barrier breaking run.

Going from a 3 mile a day runner to a 26.2 mile runner one beautiful April 17th day in Boston was a dream I never knew I had until meeting Kathrine. Now as a part time staff member to this incredible organization, I help share Kathrine legacy and the 261 Fearless organization across North America.

Today I’m sharing five pieces of wisdom from “Five Fearless Game Changers” who delivered these remarks in Boston yesterday on International Women’s Day. I hope their inspirational words and actions inspire you today to be your own “game changer woman.”


Five Fearless Game Changers #1: Ayanna Pressley

About: In 2009 Ayanna became the first woman of color to be elected to the Boston City Council. In 2011 Pressley became the first woman in 30 years and the first woman of color ever to top the ticket. Her career has been marked by history-making campaigns and a relentless determination to advance a policy agenda focused on girls and women, breaking cycles of poverty and all forms of violence, and reducing trauma in our communities.

“What makes me a fearless woman and game changer? I am my mother’s child and she was an excellent role model. Life is energy so I’d absorbed the best parts of my mother every time I do something more bold and fearless. I know warrior women don’t realize they are warriors because they are compelled by their passion. Women who make history don’t set out to make history.”


Five Fearless Game Changers #2: Joann Flaminio

About: Joann became the first ever woman president of the Boston Athletic Association in 2011 and was at the helm of the organization in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Joann helped shape a positive response to the tragedy that was widely lauded both locally and nationally.

“I was in the right place in 2011 to become the female President because I was “READY” to be the next leader. I learned as much as I could about the BAA so when the opportunity was available I could be called. You aren’t a game changer alone. There are women who championed my ability to step up into leadership. Finally you also have to be resilient.”


Five Fearless Game Changers #3: Elizabeth Perry Tirrell

About: First Vice President of Athletics at the America Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Perry oversees fundraising athletic events in and around Boston. An avid runner herself, she completed her first Boston Marathon in 2017.

“Not only did I have an amazing mother as role model but my father was one too. I knew both of my parents would be there no matter what happened to me. They also taught me resilience. I also believe to be a game changer, you have to be part of a team. You have to have a pack and a vision. Finally, if you are going to be fearless you also have to be patient.”


Five Fearless Game Changers #4: Zahra Arabzada

About: Zahra was raised in a conservative part of Afghanistan and after observing inequalities in her community became an activist for women and children’s rights at a young age. Having attended the first female boarding school in the country, she went on to study in Rhode Island, where she was introduced to the freedom of sport. http://www.thehijabirunner.com

“Accepting failures and rejections may sound cliché but I have learned more from my failures than my successes. You can only know it when you are going through it. I also think being a game changer means to me having a desire to leave the world a better place than the one I came in it. I run for my sisters back in Afghanistan. Fearlessness is also the ability to truly accept the sacrifices you make in life.”


Five Fearless Game Changers #5: Kathrine Switzer

About: An iconic athlete, author, and advocate for sports and social causes, Kathrine was the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon. She then created a global circuit of 400 races in 27 countries that led to the inclusion of the women’s marathon in the Olympic Games. Last April she ran the Boston Marathon on the 50th anniversary of her historic run in 1967, celebrating women’s achievements and launching 261 Fearless.

“I became a game changer the moment the 1967 Boston Marathon race director attempted to take my #261 bib away from me. I knew I had to finish the race even though I was embarrassed tired and scared but I dug in and finished it. Somewhere over Heartbreak Hill, I wondered where the woman were? I realized that women needed the opportunity to run and I am going create opportunities for women in running. Being a Game Changer means having determination, persistency, and vision as well as a willingness to correct an injustice. Game changing women don’t walk away from injustice. They pick up the cause, turn it upside down and do something positive to change it.”

I salute these game changing women. What are you willing to change today in your life?

Find out more about 261Fearless today and run with us.

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