Frontline Mom
NYC marathon

Remembering Grete Waitz

May 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

It took me 36 years to run my first (and thus far only) NYC marathon but growing up in the suburbs of New York City, I always wanted to run it. This marathon is and continues to be an event that brings the whole city together. I love the international flavor to the event – people seem to come from everywhere! It enables the city to showcase awesome neighborhoods full of ethnic and religious diversity that make the city what is it, a true melting pot or as some of my New-Yorker-centric friends like to claim the “capital of the world.” Growing up, I was in awe of the many great runners who took on this amazing and yet very challenging course (don’t let those bridge hills fool you!).

One runner in particular, Grete Waitz  from Norway, not only ran the course, but she dominated it – winning the event 9 times between 1978 and 1988 – more than any runner in history. She set the course record three years in a row – and blazed the trail for women runners everywhere. In doing this, she became my female sports hero, together with Joan Benoit Samuelson, who took the Gold Medal at the Los Angeles Olympics, while Grete took the silver. Both women inspired my love of running as a child, which I bring forward each and every day with me.

I was very saddened to hear that Grete Waitz died of cancer on April 19, 2011, aged 57. I still remember her poignant last marathon in 1992, when she ran with NYC marathon great Fred Lebow, who had been suffering himself from brain cancer. Since her retirement Grete continued to impress as a great ambassador for running and for great charity organizations. It’s hard to believe somebody so strong could succumb to cancer. But she’s definitely not going to be forgotten – not by me, or by the countless number of New Yorkers – and runners – she inspired citywide and worldwide.

I’d love to know: Do you have a sports hero?