Running Pioneer Switzer to Keynote Half Marathon Dinner

Women’s trailblazer was first female to run the Boston Marathon

Women’s running pioneer Kathrine Switzer will serve as the keynote speaker for the Bellin Women’s Half Marathon Women’s Inspiration Dinner on Friday, Sept. 25.

Switzer made running history in 1967, becoming the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon despite the efforts of a race official who tried to physically remove her from the course. Emboldened by her history-making finish, Switzer campaigned for the right of women to participate in the iconic marathon. They officially earned that right in 1972. Later that year, Switzer was one of the founders of the first-ever women-only road race. She then led the drive to get the women’s marathon added to the 1984 Olympic Games.

“Kathrine Switzer is a true icon of our sport and a role model for women everywhere,” said Bellin Women’s Half Marathon Race Director Linda Maxwell. “The story of her groundbreaking Boston Marathon is legendary, and in the decades since she has continued her amazing efforts to empower women as a keynote speaker, TV commentator and author. Kathrine is the perfect person to inspire our participants on the night before our inaugural race.”

Dubbed “a race to empower women,” the first-ever Bellin Women’s Half Marathon, presented by Lilly, will take place Saturday, Sept. 26. The only event of its kind in Northeast Wisconsin, the 13.1-mile individual race and two-person relay seeks to celebrate and motivate female athletes of all levels and abilities.

The focus also provides an opportunity to spotlight training and health issues specifically related to women, such as the unique challenges facing runners who are mothers, as well as self-esteem challenges some female runners may face.

The Women’s Inspiration Dinner is part of a one-of-a-kind race weekend experience that also will include a post-race dance party on the Green Bay CityDeck. Switzer will be an integral part of festivities throughout the weekend, also greeting participants during Friday’s Health & Fitness Expo and cheering runners from start to finish during Saturday’s main event.

“I am so honored to be the inaugural inspirational speaker for the Bellin Women’s Half Marathon,” Switzer said. “I’ve been privileged to be the first woman to do a number of things in my life — and truly, to be the first to speak before this brand-new event is thrilling. I can’t wait to experience the spirit and camaraderie of race weekend.”

After her groundbreaking 1967 race, Switzer went on to run 39 marathons, winning the 1974 New York Marathon and earning a spot in the first class of inductees into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame. After running a personal best of 2:51:33 at the 1975 Boston Marathon, Switzer channeled her energy into creating the Avon International Running Circuit, a series of women-only races in 27 countries. More than a million women have participated to date.

Switzer’s groundbreaking continues today.

“Running is a transformational experience for women,” she said. “It really changes lives in a positive way.”

With that in mind, Switzer has created a nonprofit organization called “261 Fearless,” a global movement that empowers women through running.

In addition to her running accolades, Switzer is an Emmy Award-winning TV commentator who has covered the Olympic Games, world and national championship events and numerous marathons — including every televised edition of the Boston Marathon. She is a dynamic, in-demand speaker who has appeared on national and international television news programs as well as TV shows including “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Switzer is also the author of numerous articles as well as three books, including Marathon Woman, her award-winning memoir.

All Bellin Women’s Half Marathon registrants receive admission to the Women’s Inspiration Dinner, as well as a collectible finisher medallion, a high-quality long-sleeve finisher shirt and headband; and admission to the celebratory dance party on the riverfront. Half marathon prices go up Aug. 1. To register or for more information, visit