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RIP, Grete Waitz

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by trifectarich, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    From the NYT; wow, way too young.

    Grete Waitz, the splendid Norwegian runner who set a world mark in her first marathon, in New York City in 1978, died of cancer on Tuesday in Oslo. She was 57.

    Her death was confirmed by her husband, Jack.

    Ms. Waitz was just 18 when she competed in the women’s 1,500-meter race at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. She was eliminated in the first round in Munich but her career as a competitive runner and pioneering athlete was just getting started.

    Ms. Waitz set the world record at 3,000 meters in the summer of 1975, but did not make the finals of the 1,500 at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Her chance at a third straight Olympics was foiled when Norway joined the American-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    Fred Lebow, the director of the New York City marathon, invited Ms. Waitz to compete in the 1978 New York race. It would be her first-ever marathon, and it was understood that she would run as a rabbit, or early pacesetter, for the established and favored women marathoners.

    She also planned to use the trip to New York to celebrate her retirement from competitive running, renew her focus on her job as a teacher, and perhaps start a family with Mr. Waitz, whom she had married in 1975.

    “But, instead, I quit my job teaching and never had kids,” she said in a 2008 interview with the New York Road Runners club.

    Ms. Waitz not only won the 1978 New York race, but also set a world best, finishing in 2 hours 32 minutes 30 seconds — 2 minutes faster than the previous mark.

    Over the years she would win the New York event eight more times.
  2. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    One of the greats, and a breakout star of modern womens' sports. Very sad.
  3. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    WTF. I did not know she was sick.

    One of the great champions of any sport and a giant in long distance running.

    A wonderful person who worked to grow the sport. She was very gracious. She worked very closely with the people at the New York Road Runners and had a special relationship with New York City Marathon founder Fred Lebow.


    My favorite memory of her, maybe even more poignant now:

  4. holy bull

    holy bull Active Member

    Very sad. RIP Grete Waitz. She was the guest starter for one of our local races and was unflaggingly gracious and enthusiastic about getting people off their butts and running.
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Interviewed her twice. Very nice woman.

  6. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    I profiled Grete Waitz maybe 15 years and multiple jobs ago.

    After her first marathon, or maybe it was her first time running NYC, she threw her running shoes at her husband and said she was never going to do that again. Instead, she became a worldwide advocate for running, and for women in sports.
  7. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    One in the same:

  8. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    I'm really shocked that the NYRR doesn't have something up on their website:



    This is one of those times that you get the webmaster out of bed, drop everything else, and put up a tribute.

    You'd also think they'd be prepared for this to some degree and should have had a statement from Mary Wittenberg prepared and had it distributed to the press as soon as they heard of her passing.
  9. mrbio

    mrbio Member

    DOB: October 1, 1953, in Oslo, Norway.

    Running inspirations: “My brothers when I was a young girl. And later it was the European track runners, European middle-distance runners. And later, when I moved on to the roads… I really didn’t have any idols because I was, more or less, the first one. I ran my first marathon here in New York 30 years ago and set the world best. If I look back, the most important thing was my brothers who inspired me to take up running. Then I reached the national level and international level. They were my best training partners, with my husband. So I had three men in my life who were all important to me.”

    Hobbies/Leisure Activities: “Before I was a professional runner I was a school teacher. So, running 110 miles a week, having a full time job as a school teacher – I didn’t really have time for a hobby. But in the last 5-10 years I’ve been involved in getting people to be aware of the importance of being active. Because inactivity is our biggest health threat. I’m motivating young people, adults, to be more active in their daily life.”

    Favorite Movies: “Thrillers, mysteries, court dramas. I saw it yesterday – Pride and Glory with Colin Farrell and Ed Norton.”

    Musical Tastes: “The best music is quiet. Peace and quiet. I’m not into music. I never have the radio on. I like it quiet.”

    Last Book Read: “The last one by John Sandford, I just started it. Last one finished was The Given Day by Dennis Lehane.”

    Favorite TV Shows: “24, The Wire, and The Shield. I like action [laughs].”

    Favorite Meal: “Baked potato, grilled swordfish and vegetables.”

    Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Strawberry.”

    First Marathon Memory: “My first New York City Marathon in 1978 here in New York. It was terrible even though I won it and set the world best. I crossed the finish line and said, Never again. Because I was a track runner, a world class middle-distance runner. I was talked into running the marathon by my husband. I didn’t come into the race being prepared as a marathoner because I didn’t have the long runs. I had to pay for that. I couldn’t walk for the next three days.”

    First Car: “Oh, a Mazda.”

    Current Car: “A Saab.”

    Pre-Race Feeling: “Think about the race, running it in my head several times, being nervous.”

    Greatest Sports Moment: “Oh, on the track, winning the World Cup in 3000 meters in 1977. In the marathon, winning the world championship in Helsinki. In cross-country, winning the world championship in 1983 in Gateshead, England. I won it several times, five times, but that was the victory that meant the most to me.”

    Most Painful Moment: “My first New York City Marathon [smiles].”

    Funny Career Memory: “Not really. Being a World Cup marathoner on that level is not a lot of fun [smiles]. Well, I have been to track races where I didn’t bring my spikes and had to run in other people’s spikes. That’s the only thing I can think of, off the top of my head.”

    Favorite Athletes To Watch: “I watch all major marathons. I like Paula Radcliffe. Paula has a passion for the sport, she is a tough woman. She has been through ups and downs, but she is still the same Paula that I met many, many years ago, before she became a world class athlete. When she was still running track in England.”

    Favorite Sports Outside Running: “Cross country skiiing. I watch the Tour de France. Endurance sports is something I enjoy watching.”

    People Qualities Most Admired: “What I like to see is generosity. If you have the chance to give back to your community, if you are in a position that you can give something back, I like to see people do that. Being generous.”

    Career Accomplishments: Winner of nine New York City Marathons (1979-1980, 1982-1986, 1988) and two London Marathons (1983, 1986); 1972 and 1976 Olympian (1500 meters); 1984 Olympic silver medalist in marathon; 1988 Olympian (marathon); 1983 world champion in marathon in Helinski (lowered the marathon world best by an astounding nine minutes); In 2008 King Harald V bestowed upon her the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, First Class, in recognition of being an important role model.

    (Note: This Biofile interview was conducted in New York City in November of 2008 and was published in the May/June 2009 issue of “Marathon & Beyond.”)

  10. mrbio

    mrbio Member

    “We are sad to lose a dear friend and our most decorated champion, Grete Waitz, who passed away today. Her strength and grace throughout her fight with cancer were incredible, and when so many people would have crumbled she stood strong and positive.

    “Grete was a great champion in life as well as in sport. We treasure every moment we had with her. Grete is forever part of NYRR. Her legacy lives through the marathon, Grete’s Gallop, the Mini, and our youth programs. She was deeply important in making the New York City Marathon what it is today, and she inspired generations of women, including athletes like Paula Radcliffe and Deena Kastor. That inspiration will continue.

    “We will forever celebrate Grete in our hearts and as an inspiration and role model for women’s running.

    “If Grete had to go, it is somehow fitting that she lived until the day after one of the greatest weekends in the sport of marathon running.”

    —Mary Wittenberg, President and CEO, New York Road Runners
  11. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Very nice column from George Vecsey; has quotes from Marry Wittenberg, Alaln Steinfeld, and Lance Armstrong:

  12. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Well-Known Member

    Cancer gets another elite athlete and genuine class act.

    RIP, good madam and thanks for showing that a successful elite athlete can still be a fantastic human being.

    Keep Pounding, Grete.
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