This year marks the 55th anniversary of 20-year-old Kathrine Switzer becoming the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. Switzer outsmarted restrictions, endured harassment, and faced challenges to her results, but she succeeded and helped pave the way for female racers. Women’s running has come a long way since then. According to Runner’s World’s Marc Chalufour, 10% of marathon finishers were women in 1980, increasing to 40% in 2010. And from 2008 to 2018, women’s marathon participation increased 56.83%. For three Sammamish women, running and racing have been an increasing source of health, friendship, and empowerment in their own lives.
Local runners Dani Turrin, Audrey Quinto, and Nicky Beaty are all runners who live in Sammamish and compete locally as well as nationally. While they run different races, they have trained together for a couple of years, improving their pace while using their camaraderie as a building block.
Turrin, 35, began running ten years ago for better health. She only began running seriously three years ago when she met a group of women runners through the YMCA. She began running with this new group for inspiration and accountability but continued due to their growing friendships.
“Initially it was just for fitness, but I’ve just come to enjoy the camaraderie that I’ve found with running,” Turrin said.
She began with three-to-five mile trail races as well as the occasional relay with friends.
“There really is nothing like a race–the adrenaline that comes with the race,” she said. “It’s a good challenge for me and I just like being really active.”
Turrin’s friend, Audrey Quinto, 48, is also a passionate runner. Quinto began running in high school in Hawaii when she joined cross country with encouragement from her older sister.
“It was my older sister. She’s a year older than me. She started doing cross country and I thought it would be really fun,” Quinto said, adding “I didn’t really like running until I did cross country. Now it’s become a lifetime sport.”
For Quinto, running is a mood booster, helping her to relax. She likes to trail run with friends and her local running community. She loves the social aspect of running and recently traveled to Chicago with Nicky Beaty and other friends who were there to both race and cheer Quinto on as she ran the Chicago Marathon.
Beaty, 42, like Quinto, began running in high school and has been running her whole life. But it was the restrictions of COVID-19 that pushed her to become a more serious runner.
She said, as a kid “I was kind of like Forrest Gump when he was little. I literally ran all over the neighborhood. I never stopped running.”
Beaty’s high school cross country training allowed her to run her first marathon at age 22. She runs many races alone but also enjoys relay races with friends. She believes there is more accountability in a team than singular running. Like Quinto and Turrin, she prefers trail running to street running because of her love of nature.
“I love off-road. I love trail running. That is my passion,” Beaty said.
Beaty runs for several reasons but especially to be a role model for her kids – to show them that they can also lead a healthy lifestyle as they get older. She wants them to know that they should “treat their body like a temple, not a tent.”
For anyone considering getting started, all three runners have advice. Beaty suggests finding some friends to help with pacing and to start slow.
“You have to be a little crazy sometimes, but in a good way – in the best way possible,” encourages Beaty.
Turrin wants to remind novice runners that “it’s going to be hard, but it will feel so much better when you’re done.”
Finally, Quinto says that anyone can start running and should because there is a low barrier to entry and no judgment… and most importantly, “the hardest part is getting out the door… [but] you always feel good after a run.”