261 Fearless connects women around the world, across national borders and language barriers. That's why ten 261 Coaches from different parts of Austria travelled to Albania to discover something new, to connect with their counterparts abroad and exchange experiences.
After their arrival in Tirana, the 261 Coaches were lucky to start the trip with a city tour through Tirana, the capital of Albania, given by a Historian. She gave interesting insights about Albania’s eventful history and today's architectural modernization of the city of Tirana. The Austrian ladies received a first impression about the country and could finally meet the Albanian 261 Coaches from Tirana: Bruna and Mimoza.
Kathrine Switzer joined the trip and all ladies visited a local school to speak to the girls about 261 Fearless. Together, they could spread the word about the importance of taking the first step and being empowered. The girls and the Coaches alike were impressed by Kathrine's experiences at the Boston Marathon in 1967.
After this visit, the 261 Fearless team had a meeting with the US Embassy in Tirana. Edith Zuschmann, our CEO, and Kathrine Switzer informed the Embassy about our mission to empower women through the social side of running and putting one foot in front of the other. This was not only inspiring for the members of the Embassy but gave us new opportunities to reach out to women's organizations that collaborate with the Embassy - a very fruitful meeting that opened loads of doors to women in Albania.
For the 261 Coaches the most important part of the trip was yet to come: The ladies were given one entire afternoon to exchange ideas, training exercises and their experiences as 261 Coaches. The Austrians and Albanians played games together, inspired each other with new ideas to reach out to women in their areas and supported each other. During this afternoon, the atmosphere was thriving with inspiration! The exchange is to be continued back at home, our 261 Coaches benefit enormously.
Next stop was Vlora, a city at the beautiful seaside of Albania, and Fier, where the second 261 Club in Albania is located. In between the meetings, our 261 Coaches fortunately found enough time to enjoy ice-cream at the seaside and relax in the sun. Later, the ladies visited a local language school where Matilda, our 261 Coach in Fier, teaches kids. The girls were truly inspired by Kathrine's story and will never forget how much fun it was to play the game "Where is my Hugo". If you are curious and want to know more about this game, you should visit one of our meet runs!
The cherry on the cake of the trip to Albania was Saturday's meet run. More than 50 women were attracted to this event and joined us. Runners of all ages, all abilities, many different countries and with diverse backgrounds gathered to meet, exchange and run with each other. The 261 Coaches played the funny squirrel game with the group and all women arrived sweaty, but happy at the end of the route.
All runners, members and especially the 261 Coaches from Austria and Albania could benefit a lot from this experience, here are their opinions:
Our Coaches Trip to Albania showed me once again that we have fearless sisters all over the planet. It was a great experience to get to know the friendly and open-minded runners in Tirana and Fier. Besides that, we could explore a wonderful country which keeps developing very fast in many daily aspects. Thank you all very much!
Elisabeth, 261 Coach in Graz (Austria)
In a foreign country, without speaking the language it's sometimes enough to find a common ground such as being "female" or "fearless" to connect. Thank you for this opportunity to try out something new, learn from each other, run with each other and connect!
Ingrid, 261 Coach in Maria Buch (Austria)
It was such an amazing experience, I had fun and joy from running together and I gained Strength and Hope for the future, and above all some wonderful friends for life. The time we spent together taught me a valuable lesson that “Alone we can do so little, whilst together we achieve so much”.
Mimoza, 261 Coach in Tirana (Albania)
I am not the same person having seen the sun shine in Albania – our trip has opened up new vistas for me! I look back gratefully on wonderful memories and look forward to new friendships with the Albanian 261 coaches.
Paula, 261 Coach in Klagenfurt (Austria)