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07. July 2006

Katherine Switzer and WwB Team © WwB

Women without Borders met Katherine Switzer short before the Women´s Race in Vienna.
f.l.t.r.: Astha Kapoor, Katherine Switzer, Elisabeth Kasbauer, Kathrin Salzmann, Edit Schlaffer, Kate Brubacher

Tegla Loroupe &;copy Elisabeth Kasbauer/WwB

Tegla Loroupe on the stage in the Vienna Prater.

The winners © Elisabeth Kasbauer/WwB

Tegla Loroupe with Prize © Elisabeth Kasbauer /WwB

Come on Ladies, start to run!

The Vienna Women´s Race 2006

Astha Kapoor, our Girls without Borders representative joined the Women´s Race in Vienna on June 11th in the Vienna Prater.

12.000 women ran the women's Marathon in Vienna. It seemed like a big party! Loud music, colourful people. Little kids, who were being taken care of by their fathers in this sunny Sunday afternoon. For the encouragement of women and to ensure maximum participation, many international female athletes from all over the world came together to run. The two names that catch the eye are of Kathrine Switzer and Tegla Loroupe. Both these women have fascinating stories. They come from very different backgrounds but today stand together to encourage women to run.
Kathrine Switzer in 1967 she was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon wearing an official race number. An extremely angry race official tried to remove her forcibly from the race, but supporters pushed him off the route. Since then she has worked tirelessly to make sure that women get equal opportunities to run marathons as men. Her contribution to bring about the inclusion of the women's marathon is undeniable. Recently she co-wrote a book “26.2 Marathon Stories” along with her husband. The book deals with the different aspects of a marathon runners life and is full of rare and wonderful pictures including the ones from the 1967 Boston marathon.

Tegla Laroupe was born in Kenya. She is a long distance track and road runner and holds a number of records. She was the first African athlete to win the New York city marathon. Teglas story is a potential legend. A little girl in Africa, with 24 siblings and no food decides to enroll herself into school. She would run to 10km to school everyday. From high school she went to boarding and her father made her promise not anticipate in any sports there, but Tegla was a rebel. She took part in all the races there and established herself as an athlete. But she was considered too thin by the athletes federation and got no support. But in 1988 she proved all her detractors wrong and won the cross country race. She was then nominated for the junior World Championship.
Since then there has been no looking back for Tegla. In 1994 she won the New York State Marathon. Tegla Loroupe has been a source of inspiration for not just women in her village and country but all over the African continent. Her perserverence and resolve to make something of herself is truly remarkable. Recently she started a peace programme and undertakes many peace runs. She hopes to provide education for as many young Kenyans as possible and is constructing a residential school on the border of Kenya and Uganda.

The presence of these two legendary marathon runners added to the excitement of the participants. Everyone who managed to reach the finish line was given a medal so they all felt like winners. And winners they were, for coming out there and running all of 10 km and proving to the world that women by no stretch of the imagination are any less than men.

During the prize distribution ceremony, Tegla Loroupe was honoured with the Austrian Women´s Run Award 2006, the award had gone to Kathrine Switzer last year. Standing on stage, the little lady from Kenya was overwhelmed with emotions and could not stop her tears. Everyone was on their feet clapping for her balloons were let out in her honour.

Just being there in the middle of all these women, made me proud of being one myself. Even though i couldn't manage to run this time but i will be sure to be there next year.

Start practising ladies! We´ll see u at the Vienna women's Marathon 2007.


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