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New York Road Runners Club Remembers Grete Waitz

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grete Waitz, nine-time winner of the New York City Marathon who transformed the sport of running, died Tuesday after a six-year battle with cancer. She was 57.

Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of the New York Road Runners Club, said Waitz was "hugely influential," and a role model for many female athletes.

"She started running at a time when people, when women, started running," she said. "So I really think, especially in New York City, I think little girls grew up wanting to be like Grete."

Waitz ran and won her first New York City Marathon in 1978, and went on to win the race a total of nine times. Wittenberg said Waitz legitimized the marathon in the professional running world, making it a serious athletic event.

"Grete did every bit as much for the New York City Marathon as the New York City Marathon did for Grete," she said, adding that Waitz opened the doors for women runners who followed in her footsteps, like Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Waitz was a former teacher from Oslo, Norway. During her running career, she also won the London Marathon twice, and the silver medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

With the Associated Press

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Comments [1]

Laurie Gordon from Stillwater, NJ

I met Grete at the Bahama 5K when she came in first and I came in second and she gave me the first place trophy. We spoke at length that night, and became pen pals for many years.

I saw her again throughout the years, and she was so supportive of me first through a divorce then when I ran in the US Olympic Trials Marathon in 2000 despite having been hit by a car one month before. A few years later, when I told her of the birth of my child with a wonderful new husband I had met through running, she was so happy and encouraged me to always run to stay in shape and for enjoyment. I last saw her after the Boston Marathon.She was always so accessible to people. There she was, wandering around a hotel lobby talking to people. That was her!
One wonderful memory was a phone conversation I had with Grete. I had learned she had cancer and had sent her a quilt I made for her as encouragement to fight her cancer. I sent it to her NY hotel and she then phoned me from Norway the next week.

She was an amazing and gracious woman who's love of perpetuating the sport of running was unparalleled.
I am so thankful for her friendship and support over the years.

Apr. 20 2011 07:20 AM

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