Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Passing Of A Legend

One of the greatest long-distance runners in history passed away on April 19. Her name was Grete Waitz.

I was seventeen (1978) when Waitz ran her first marathon (New York City), shattering the world record by over two minutes. Her stride was both beautiful and indomitable, and over her career, she lowered the women's marathon record by over nine minutes.

For over five years internationally, any race Waitz ran in became an event, because the times she ran were so crazy-fast that whenever she laced it up, a world record was possible. And in pre-instant information days, I remember waiting anxiously to hear race results, wondering if she had done it again.

Olympic gold eluded her, largely because Norway boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. She did win the world championships in 1983, and was second in the 1984 Olympics to Joan Benoit (who was also a complete badass, although that's a story for a different day).

She was also, from everything I've read, a grounded, decent person.

So if you want to read about a true legend, head over to her Wikipedia page and enjoy. Also, a very well-done New York Times profile.

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