Grete Waitz, Marathon Champion
Grete Waitz was an inspiration to runners everywhere. A year after her death, we remember her amazing career. Originally published April 2011 on Obit-Mag.com.
Grete Waitz’s first two Olympics were brutal disappointments. As an 18 year-old, the lean Norwegian runner qualified for the 1972 Olympics with high hopes. She failed to make the final round of her strongest events, the middle distance 1500 meters and 3000 meters. To make matters worse, in 1975 she set the world record for the 3000 meters, but then failed to make it out of the preliminary rounds of the 1976 Olympics. Norway boycotted the 1980 Olympics in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Waitz’s career would have been over, had it not been for a foray from 1500 meters to a full marathon. in 1978 the director of the New York City Marathon invited Waitz to run the race. It was understood that her middle distance qualifications would make her an excellent “rabbit,” an early pacesetter who would fall from the lead during the latter stages of the 26.2 mile race.
In an Oct. 23, 1983 file photo Grete Waitz , of Norway, crosses the finish line to win the New York City marathon. Waitz broke the tape with a time of 2:26:59. Grete Waitz, who won nine New York City Marathons and a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics, died Tuesday April 19, 2011 after a six-year battle with cancer, Norway's athletics federation said. She was 57. (AP Photo/file)
Waitz herself saw the opportunity as an opportunity for a swan song, a graceful exit from the world of competitive racing. But something happened between the Verrazano Bridge and Central Park, and Waitz won the race setting a world record in the process.
She would win the race eight more times and lowering the world record women's marathon time by an astonishing 9 minutes. She also won the silver medal in the marathon at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Waitz died on April 19th at 7.
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