For immediate release March 16, 2016
Contact: Ross Robinson at 905.401.3344 or

Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon is
First Canadian Partner Event for 261 Fearless

Global nonprofit aims to empower women through running

NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO - The Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon on June 5 has been named the first Canadian partner event for 261 Fearless, Inc., a global nonprofit community of female runners and walkers founded by women's running legend Kathrine Switzer.

261 Fearless is using running as a vehicle to empower women globally, reaching out to make them fearless through the creation of clubs, training opportunities, merchandising and events. But most of all, Switzer says, 261 Fearless is about creating a global community of female runners and walkers who are supporting and talking to each other, encouraging healthy living and a positive sense of self.

"I have been a guest of the Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon for its first four editions. I've watched it grow, and I am overwhelmingly impressed at the empowered community of women that it has created," Switzer said. "The growth of 261 Fearless as a charity has paralleled the growth of this tremendous race, so now, on this fifth edition, it's appropriate to make our friendly relationship official!"

Ross Robinson, the founder and director of the Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon said, "Kathrine is an inspiration to these women. She is friendly and accessible, hugging and talking to each one of them. But what makes her special is that she keeps pushing for their cause. She knows running empowers them and we are joining her in trying to empower as many women in the world as possible."

Switzer continued: "The 261 Fearless Partner Event relationship is pretty simple, really, and it's a win-win for everyone. We give women in both organizations information about running and walking, and about events that are spirited and women-friendly, like the Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon. This allows them to broaden their running network, and as they share - through personal interaction of clubs and events or through technology - their fearless hopes and determination."

Runners and non-runners alike may be familiar with Switzer thanks to the iconic 1967 photo of a Boston Marathon race official trying to forcibly remove her from the course. Switzer - and her nonprofit namesake bib number 261 - went on to finish the event, becoming the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. She has spent the decades since working as a champion for women's running, and has become both an Emmy Award-winning TV commentator and a bestselling author.

"We are thrilled to have Kathrine back with us again this year as the 'Event Celebrity' said Robinson. "She'll be signing books and taking selfies at the Packet Pick-Up June 3 and 4 at the Niagara Square Shopping Centre, speaking at Betty's Restaurant for the pre-event dinner on the evening of June 4 and on race day will be high-fiving and hugging participants. How great that our race is now an official part of the 261 Fearless movement. This is a wonderful way to let thousands more women around the world know they are welcome at the Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon!"

The fifth annual Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon kicks off at 8am, Sunday, June 5 at Upper Rapids Blvd. parking lot. The fast 13.1 mile (21.1K) course is one of the most beautiful and famous in the world as it winds its way along the Niagara River Parkway and passes the Niagara Falls TWICE before finishing where it started.

For more information about the Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon, go to To learn more about 261 Fearless, go to

Canadiana Productions Holdings Inc. Box 991, 4 Wilberforce Avenue, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0 905-401-3344

June 5th, 2013

Obsessive Runner - Andrew Chak

The best half marathon I didn't run

I'm hesitating to write this race review. I'm pausing because it was a gem of race and although it deserves to grow, I don't want it to get too big and lose its compelling charm. The kicker, however, is that I didn't run this race - my wife did. This was the second annual Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon and I never had so much fun at a race I didn't run.

It starts with the Portapotty

The packet pickup was held at what would be the start and finish area of the race. This gave us a good preview in terms of arrival logistics and parking. As we entered the area, the first thing we noticed were the portapotties – lots of them. Women-friendly-don't-have-to-wait-as-long-in-line amounts of portapotties.

Being the curious male that I am, I snuck into one of them (I had to go, ok?) and marveled at the nice soaps and scented sprays provided within. There were also some potted plants where the, ahem, men would normally go along with a cute sign advising occupants not to "water the plants." By the way, my apologies to the next occupant for leaving the toilet seat up (habit).

Who knew a portapotty could be so fun?

A Pink Packet Worth Picking Up

Packet pickup was smooth, efficient and full of goodies. The theme of "empowered" was emblazoned on the pink packet bag as well as on the front of the Brooks technical race shirts. The shirts came in your choice of green or blue (how cool is that?) and the race logo was smartly printed on the back to prevent having too much ink on front which would block ventilation. The kit included a plethora of samples including: shampoo, makeup, mouthwash, a toothbrush and a bottle of wine. I double checked to see if the wine was to be used as a sports drink but it was not advised.

Also at the packet pickup was one of the most inspirational and influential female runners in history, Kathrine Switzer. Kathrine was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon when women weren't allowed to run in endurance races. She registered using her initials and when she was spotted on the course, the race director famously tried to pull her off the course. Kathrine ultimately prevailed and finished the race and helped to open the doors for female athletes to participate and compete in marathons. Participants were given the opportunity to meet Kathrine and take pictures with her.

The race packet was full of goodies!

The Cheer of the Niagara River

The course was a flat, scenic run along the Niagara River. The runners went down the river, past the falls and the main Clifton Hill tourist area, made a u-turn back to pass the falls again, then continued back along the river up past the start, and made another u-turn to go down the river back to the start which also served as the finish. Although crowd support was sparse, the stunning beauty of the river provided the inspiration for runners to keep going. There was some entertainment along the way such as a harpist and a "muscle beach" area where some men were pumping iron (I don't know why I wasn't invited to do this ). Kathrine Switzer was also on the course high-fiving and encouraging all the runners. A really nice aspect of this double out and back course is the fact that you can see your other running friends at least once or twice as you run and can cheer them on.

The Finishing Touches

In keeping with the sly humour of the race, the finish was referred to as the "Finish Wine" and the emcee did an excellent job of creatively encouraging and announcing each runner as she crossed the finish. The medals were a bright and colourful pink and sported a unique design from the previous year. Food boxes were provided to each runner and there were bistro tables setup with tablecloths and flowers which provided the most elegant post-race dining venue I had ever seen.

Whimsical with a Purpose

This race is a whimsy – from "Very Important Pee-ers" (VIP) portapotties, to "voluncheer" t-shirts, to cold, wet towels at the finish, this is a well thought out event that's more than a race. One of the most significant elements of this race is that funds are raised for the Women's Place of South Niagara which provides shelter for women and children experiencing abuse. For my wife, she felt great to be a part of contributing to a local and worthwhile cause.

My wife with Kathrine Switzer

The Champ

This race was my wife's first half-marathon - she had done a couple of 10K races before and was a little bit nervous about covering the distance. The thoughtfulness and the organization of this race, however, empowered her to enjoy the run. I was and am so proud of her for finishing strong and am truly glad (and a little jealous) that she had the opportunity to do this distance at such a great event. My wife is already talking about next year and thinking about taking advantage of the early bird registration deal that is on til June 30th.

By: Catherine Porter Columnist, Published on Tuesday June 04 2013

There was a time a woman conquering the Boston Marathon was unheard of - Porter

Long-distance running of any kind was considered unsuited to the delicate second sex, but Kathrine Switzer changed all that.

Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon.

This was 46 years ago. At mile two, a miserable man named Jock Semple tried to drag her off the course, shouting "Get the hell out of my race."

He was the race organizer, and up 'til then, every marathon in North America had been an after-supper club affair: men only.

Long-distance running of any kind was considered unsuited to the delicate second sex. The 800-metre women's race had recently been reinstated as an Olympic event after a 30-year hiatus because it was considered too straining for the female body. A woman who even attempted to run 42.2 kilometres was either crazy or suicidal, and in both cases disgraceful.

Official tries to kick Kathrine Switzer out of the 1967 Boston Marathon.

After Switzer finished the race, she got loads of hate mail of the "Who the hell do you think you are" kind.

"I had a gynecologist tell me after my sixth marathon, 'You are in danger of prolapsing your uterus'," Switzer told me as I warmed up this past Sunday. "The joke among woman is, if any sex organs are in danger of injury from sports, it's got to be guys.' "I was one of more than 2,100 women racing in the Niagara Falls Women's Half-Marathon. Switzer was there at the start line to cheer us on.

How do you like them apples, Jock?

Switzer had not set out to break feminist ground. Like most of us runners, she simply loved the freedom and strength and challenge of the sport. She wanted to prove to herself that she could conquer the most gruelling running race in the world.

As she explains in her memoir Marathon Woman, there was no mention of gender in the entry form. That a woman would run the marathon was as inconceivable as an elephant running in it. She registered using her initials.

The day of the race, she wore men's leather running shoes, jogging pants, some eyeliner and a glint of lipstick. Her point: Femininity and athleticism are not mutually exclusive.

In the end, the photo of Jock trying to yank her away made a bigger point: It was men's rage and fear holding women back, not their physique or minds. Switzer's linebacker boyfriend pushed Jock off, and she continued to finish the race and cross into history.

She made The Tonight Show and was officially banished from amateur sport. "Unless we have rules, society will be in chaos," another race organizer told the press that day. "If she was my daughter, I'd spank her."

Suck on that the next time you need some energy to run up a steep hill!

Together with a small group of elite women runners, Switzer continued to break into races until Jock agreed to open the Boston Marathon to women in 1972. She then worked on the International Olympic Committee. It introduced the women's marathon in 1984.

"I had to defend myself and defend all women," Switzer told me. "The best way was to create opportunity for women to prove we were equals."

When I joined the running club in Grade 4, I hadn't heard of Switzer. I had no idea I was reaping her rewards. I was just happy to feel the stretch of my legs and the boost of endorphins.

Today, running is my anxiety medication and my thinking cave. I get my best ideas while panting down to the beach. It's the perfect sport for a hectic life: no class schedule, just some running shoes and "I'll see you in 40 minutes."

Races are wonderful because after weeks of solitary huffing, you join a heaving team. Even though the sport has become commercial, with glamour outfits and $300 shoes, we runners still come from humble stock. We know the anguish we've pushed through. We cheer one another on. Now, put 2,100 women runners together and you have a veritable lovefest! We hugged before starting.

Sizing up the beautiful, muscled bodies around me, I thought "How crazy that society didn't think we were capable of this!"

But, then, how crazy is it that women ski jumpers weren't allowed to compete in the 2010 Olympics and the 2012 games were the first for female Saudi competitors! The boundaries expand, but the battle continues.

Switzer is still fighting to bring running — and the sense of empowerment it brings - to women around the globe. She is 66 now. She recently raced her 39th marathon. She plans to run the Boston Marathon again in 2017, on the 50th anniversary of that famous run.

By the end of that race, 46 years ago, she was no longer angry with Jock or the stupid rules. She was exhausted and elated and buzzing with power.

That's how I felt, this past Sunday. As I neared the finish line, I first glimpsed my husband and kids cheering me on. Then, after I crossed it, I saw Switzer. She hugged me.

Chocolate Recipes as seen on Rogers Daytime Simcoe with Runner & Chef Charmaine Broughton

Peanut Fig & Rosemary Bark

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal

Cafe Mocha Tofu Mousse

This simple to prepare "treat" will satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging all your hard work on foot.

  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) each; quality ground coffee and hot water
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 500g (1 lb) medium firm tofu, drained and chopped in chunks
  • 125 g (4 oz) 70% dark chocolate, melted
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) Canadian Maple Syrup
  • Fresh raspberries & toasted slivered almonds *optional

Stir together coffee, hot water and vanilla. Set aside. Place tofu in the bowl of a food processor (fitted with a metal blade) and pulse until smooth. Add melted chocolate and agave nectar and pulse until very well combined, scraping side of bowl when needed. Add reserved coffee mixture and pulse until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for up to two days.  Garnish with raspberries.  Yields 2 cups (500 mL) - 4 1/2 cup (125 mL) servings.

Charmaine Broughton-Dunn is a trained chef, cooking instructor, and food writer for a number of national publications.  She is an avid runner (completing dozens of marathons and triathlons) and is a very proud ambassador of Niagara Falls Women's Half Marathon. Charmaine has appeared on City Line, Toronto's Breakfast Television and is a regular guest on Rogers Daytime sharing her love of food and cooking.

Most importantly; Charmaine is the mother of two active boys, Tyler & Colgan.  Charmaine understands the importance of preparing healthy wholesome dishes all while keeping budget and time in mind.  For media appearances, cooking demonstrations or spokesperson inquiries call: 705-706-3971 Follow Charmaine on twitter @runnercharb


"The course views - spectacular Niagara Falls, two times! I have already signed up for 2014."
- Colleen M
"BIG NAMES ON BIBS. I felt like a rock star. Best event I have ever been in!"
- Beth Primrose, last years winner  
"Kathrine Switzer hugging me before the start was so inspiring."
- Paige M
"To share the morning with so many like minded women. Magic!"
- Keri S 
"Really enjoyed putting fresh flowers in all the Port-a-Potties."
- Joy J, Director of Toilette Accoutrements
"V.Q.A. Wine and useful cosmetics in my Swag Bag. Perfect."
- Joyce C
"My personal best time on this great course. Almost totally flat. And the mist!"
- Allie G
"A fun getaway weekend for us wild northern Ontario girls. Lots of laughs."
- Mo C
"The start area was a veritable lovefest."
- Journalist Catherine Porter, in The Toronto Star, June 4, 2013 
"A wet and cold washcloth to clean my face, just after getting my fabulous Finisher Medal. What's next for 2014? I'm already in."
- Deb S
"Meeting Kathrine Switzer was the highlight of my year. She is so encouraging"
- Jen A
"The inclusiveness to all women. There were women of all sizes and fitness abilities that you don't normally see at other events. So much hugging."
- Sharon M