Mahsa Torabi, the Iranian Katherine Switzer

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.*  Almost 50 years later, on 9 April 2016, Masoumeh (Mahsa) Torabi followed in Kathrine’s trail-blazing footsteps by running in the first international marathon in Iran, which was only open to male entries. 

This is Mahsa’s account of why she ran. 

I run Iran.

I run in the first international marathon of Iran.

I run as an ambassador of peace in the silk roads.

I run as an ambassador of  Free to Run.

I run as an ambassador of muslim women.

I run 42 km like men so that all women can do it.

I will run all over the world for peace, friendship, humanity  and happiness.

I started to run in the early morning. It was dark and cool. I started very easily after taking some photos at the start. I ran, ran, and ran. When I reached to Marvdasht city, everything was ready for the runners. My country’s people are very hospitable. The authorities of this city were ready for our guests who come from many countries. Many students with flowers in their hands came to welcome our guests and runners. When each runner reached near to them, students encouraged them along their way. I was so happy and it was interesting for me. When the police saw me they opened the way for me. They gave me water and fruits. First of all, they thought I was a foreigner woman. They asked me what country I came from and I said to them that I was an Iranian woman. They encouraged me and supported me all over the roads. The Red Crescent organization and Ambulance were there too. They came with a motorbike and a car and asked me if I needed help. I told them I run for peace, friendship, humanity and happiness.

I am really thankful to everyone who supported. Of course not only for supporting me, but also for supporting all our guests and runners. In the last part of the race, everyone encouraged me and said go, go, go!

My messages to all people in all over the world: peace, friendship with no borders, humanity and happiness.

Mahsa, a Free to Run Ambassador, will be participating in the Iran Silk Road Ultramarathon from 2-9 May 2016 in the Dasht-e-Lut desert.

*Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run with a numbered entry. She applied to enter the race under her initials so it was not clear that she was entering as a female runner. Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to run the full Boston Marathon unofficially the year before Kathrine entered.

Leah Anathan