Legond Marthoner Grete Waitz Dies From Cancer At 57

Waitz finishing 2nd at 1984 Olympic Games

The marathon world is still celebrating the amazing times set  at Monday’s Boston Marathon by the Kenyan men. The NY Times reported the sad news that one of the legends of the Marathon , Norway’s Grete Waitz, has succumbed to cancer  at the age of 57.  Grete Waitz was  a former world record holder in the marathon, and nine-time winner of the NY City Marathon and silver medalist in the 1984 First Olympic Woman’s Marathon at the Los Angelos Games.

Grete Waitz, the Norwegian runner who won a record nine New York City Marathons starting with her first in October 1978, died Tuesday in Oslo. She was 57.

Waitz revealed in 2005 that she had cancer, without disclosing details. Her death was confirmed by her husband, Jack Waitz.

Waitz’s nine victories in the New York race is a mark that no woman or man has duplicated. Unassuming and yet fiercely confident, she inspired runners around the world and stayed involved in the running community even as she battled cancer.

“Grete was a great champion in life as well as in sport,” said Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners and the marathon director. “We will forever celebrate Grete in our hearts and as an inspiration and role model for women’s running.”

Waitz (pronounced vites) was a geography teacher from Norway who came to New York for the first time with her husband. She came on a whim, for a chance to explore a new city, an opportunity to run a different kind of race.

Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon, thought Waitz might be a good pacesetter, since she was a world-record holder in the 3,000 meters in track. She had never run more than 16 miles in a training run. Jack, who was her coach as well as her husband, knew that she could run more.

Grete Waitz did not come to set a pace. She not only won the 1978 New York race, but also set a world best, finishing in 2 hours 32 minutes 30 seconds — two minutes faster than the previous mark.

The only problem was when Waitz crossed the finish line, nobody knew the blond woman wearing Bib No. 1173.

The world, and the city, soon found out.

“Every sport should have a true champion like Grete, a woman with such dignity and humanity and modesty,” said George Hirsch, the chairman of the New York Road Runners, and a friend of hers since 1978. “New York adopted her as one of its true heroes, but unlike so many sports champions, Grete was down to earth. She was just happy to visit, blend in, talk to people, runners who came from all over the world always went right up to her. She just had time for everybody. She symbolized what was so great about what was so great about the community of marathoners.”

When Waitz won her first New York City Marathon, women’s distance running was far from widely accepted. The women’s marathon would not be added to the Olympics until 1984. But she did so well, her winning time in 1978 would have won the men’s race as recently as 1970.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won that first women’s Olympic marathon by beating Waitz, said Waitz was her inspiration.

“I just lost a dear friend and true competitor in every sense of the word,” Benoit Samuelson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I lost a mentor and a role model as well.

“I think what will endure forever is the fact that she was able to balance a highly competitive career with the most gracious lifestyle and character that emanated good will throughout.”

In New York, Waitz’s victories became a ritual of autumn. She was presented each of her nine Samuel Rudin trophies by the Rudin family, the original business sponsors of the marathon.

“She was an icon, one of the greatest athletes of our century,” said Bill Rudin, fighting back tears as he recalled talking to Waitz at the start of last year’s race and introducing her to Edison Pena, the rescued Chilean miner who ran in it. “She was a class act, a real lady, who came back year after year in spite of her illness. She became a part of New York, a part of our family.”

Grete Andersen was born on Oct. 1, 1953, in Oslo, and grew up running in the woods near her house with her brothers, Jan and Arild. She is survived by her brothers and her husband.

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

She 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. In 1984, suffering from back spasms, she finished second to Benoit Samuelson in the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon.

Waitz also won the London Marathon in 1983 and 1986. She also won the world cross country championships five times, including four straight from 1978 to 1981.

She won her last New York City Marathon title in 1988. Her most famous race in New York — which she considered her 10th victory — was the 1992 marathon, which she ran with Mr. Lebow, whose brain cancer at the time was in remission. The two crossed the finish line with their hands joined, their arms high. Lebow died in 1994.

“To me, the race of her life was the time she ran with Fred in New York,” Benoit Samuelson said. “That was a superlative effort on both of their parts.”

They finished in 5:32.34, an impossibly slow pace for a world champion marathoner, and Waitz said it was the hardest race she had ever run, and her most meaningful.

Recently, because of her health problems, Waitz sat in the pace car for the women’s race in New York. In Norway, Waitz established a foundation for cancer, Aktiv Mot Kreft, which sponsored runners in major races and supported activity centers at hospitals in Norway, much like the one in Oslo, where Waitz had received treatments.

“I am convinced you can go through a lot more when you are physically fit,” she said. “It is both physical and mental. With the athletic background, you think more on the positive side — you can do this.”

In 2006, Waitz met Lance Armstrong, the cancer survivor and cyclist who was running the New York City Marathon while on a brief retirement from cycling. Waitz said at the time that she hugged Armstrong and thanked him for all he had done for those stricken with cancer through his Livestrong Foundation.

“I was in the room when the two of them met, and it was incredible,” Rudin said. “Here were these two titans of sport relating to each other, not on a sports level but on a human level. She was asking for advice from him.”

Armstrong acknowledged Waitz’s death on his Twitter page “So sad to hear. She was a good friend and an incredible athlete.”

Marathon-Party at Your Pace

Marathons are never easy, but pace groups make them less hard and more fun.  But today marathons offer a lot more than a few decades ago to help make the experience easier.  Some have lots of music, some run through scenic areas but the thing that helps the most are pace setters.

Indeed, 20 years ago, the only runners with pacesetters where elites who had paid “rabbits” to help them hit splits on their way to fast, incentive-pay-laden times.   Today, however, pace groups have become as integral to the modern marathon experience as timing chips, gel stations, and post race space blankets.  If you’ve run a marathon–or even a large half-marathon–in the last five years, chances are you’ve seen them: troops of runners clustered around a leader carrying balloons or a banner  with a goal finish time.  When marathons offer pace groups, an estimated 30 percent of the field chooses to run with one (the 4:00 pace group attracts the largest crowds).  This makes it less intimidating for the novice runner if they have someone who will help then not start the race to fast resulting in a better finish and the individual feeling better about running another marathon.  “Our runners expect it,” says Virginia Brophy Achman, executive director for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

Sometimes the pace groups are led by volunteers from local running clubs; sometimes they’re outfitted and organized by major sponsors.  Part cheerleader, part psychiatrist, a pacer spends many hours during the race encouraging, by reassuring scores and sometimes hundreds of relative strangers to their dream finish line.  The pace setters are experienced runners that will pace the group to a time that is well within their personal time often using it as a training run for their own marathon coming up.

Joan Benoit- Samuelson Continues To Run Fast At 53 Years Old

Joan Benoit-Samuelson defies age by running  2:47 in Chicago

More than a quarter of a century since her victory at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Marathon, 53-year-old Joan Benoit-Samuelson is still going strong.  She finished 43rd in the woman’s race at the Chicago Marathon finishing in  2:47:50.  Her 23-year-old daughter, Abby made her  marathon debut at Chicago 2010 while her mother had other numbers in mind.

Joan was attracted to Chicago “because of  the symmetry of numbers”. Sunday’s date is 10-10-10. The race was  the 25th anniversary of the American record that she set there in 1985 with a personal best of 2:21:21  – a mark that stood until 2003.

Joan is the first female and only 19th runner to run sub 3 hour marathon in five different decades.

  • April 16, 1979  – Boston Marathon – 2:35:16
  • October 20, 1985  – Chicago Marathon – 2:21:21
  • April 15, 1991 – Boston Marathon – 2:26:54
  • February 26, 2000 – Columbia Marathon/ Us Olympic Trails –  2:39:59
  • October 10, 2010 – Chicago Marathon – 2:47:50

Her time in Chicago was 1:50 off the qualifying time.  A time below 2 hours 46 minutes would qualify her for the United States Olympic trials for a record fifth time in 2012.
Joan Benoit is an example that age doesn’t mean you have to slow down.

How to Pick the Right Marathon for You

By Patrick McCrann- Marathon Nation for Active.com

Here are a few things to think about when you pick your marathon race in 2011.

The challenge of running and racing a marathon is a singular pursuit. Before you even start, you know that you’ll have highs and lows, obstacles to overcome, and inevitable suffering–followed by euphoria–on race day. With all of this ahead of you, it makes sense to pick the right marathon. No 26.2 miles is the same, and not all races are created equal. Some are big, others are small. Some are epic tests, others are (literally) a “walk” in the park. Finding the right race that syncs with your goals, abilities, and geographical location can go a long way towards ensuring you are able to run to your potential.

The Four Factors

Before we even get to your particular goals, it helps to take a macro level review of where you stand. Here are the four key areas we suggest you consider when picking your next race:

#1 — Timing: The ideal marathon will give you at least three months of good outdoor running prior to race day. It will fall on a quiet time of year for you, either personally or professionally. There will be options for half marathons and other local running events that will keep you motivated and on track. You will have had at least 4 if not 8 weeks of downtime from your previous big race, so residual fatigue isn’t an issue.

#2 — Terrain: You might love the punishment of steep hills and oxygen-starved air; perhaps your crave epic scenery or the taste of travel to another part of the world. Or maybe you just want to drag race the whole way. Whatever you chose, make sure the race you pick has the terrain that matches your goals for the event. Watching total marathon newbies suffer on challenging courses because they didn’t know what they were in for isn’t fun…and it can be avoided if you do your homework.

#3 — Conditions: Make sure to research the weather on / around the race date of choice. Do a web search for race reports and forum posts about the event to learn what others have said. A race in Florida in January sounds great, for example, until you realize it’s been in the 30s at the start for the past few years. Knowing that the sun beats down on you later in the day, or that the temperature plummets on the other side of the mountain pass will make you a much more informed racer…and lead you to a better overall experience.

#4 — Logistics: Traveling to your next race sounds cool and exciting until you realize it means passports, international flights, a new language, and random dietary changes pre-race. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about adventure. I just want folks to consider just how much bandwidth they have before they pull the trigger on a race that could just be challenging enough so as to suck all the fun out of it.

Picking A Race By Goal Orientation

Now that we have covered the basics, we can afford to look more closely at your overall motivation for the race. Nuturing this passion is critical if you want to train and race to your potential. Despite the higher price tag, you still have a lot to do on your own. Knowing that your race “fits” you will go a long way to making the training both more bearable and effective.

Goal: First Timer
If you are out to pick your first marathon, ever, then I suggest you pick a relatively flat marathon course that will give you plenty of nice warm weather to train in. Warm weather training means more folks on the roads when you are, as well as a higher potential for group training options. It also means less gear to manage and more time to focus on your fitness and overall well being. The course doesn’t have to be 100 percent flat, but it should be straightforward. A nice loop course will mean more spectators to keep you going over those last few critical miles.

Goal: Boston Qualification
If your sole focus is on earning your right to try and sign up for the Boston Marathon, your selection process starts with terrain. You’ll want a flat and simple course, ideally with two loops. This will allow you so manage your time and effort appropriately and allow you to identify trouble areas before lap two hits.

As a veteran, weather and conditions aren’t as important to your decision, as odds are you’ll have the gear and the mental fortitude to suck it up should the running weather gods not be smiling on you. You’ll also want to check on the finish times for your age group and do some general research to make sure the course you are considering is legitimately a good option for qualifying.

Goal: Inspiration / Travel
If you are out to stay on track with your running but need a fun year, or a massive change of scenery, an international marathon might be just right for you. It will keep you running, but within reason as this isn’t about racing–it’s about doing. The travel to the race and few days leading up to it will have some stress, but the post-race scenery, cuisine, and culture will more than make up for it. Be sure to research by networking with other runners who have attempted the event…nothing beats the inside scoop!

Goal: Redemption
Maybe you had a bad race last year, or just not the best training buid up. Regardless of the reason, you are back to give it another go. This is both good and bad, as you know the course and what _not_ to do. But it also means you are bringing a lot of negative energy to the table; it can push you a long way but might not get you the full 26.2 miles.

And let’s face it, sometimes even the same course can seem different from year to year! To be 100 percent ready for your revenge tour, do a full 360-degree analysis to determine where things went wrong last time. Guaranteed your challenges will be very different this year, but even to have the basics covered will put you a few steps ahead.

Conclusion

There is no such thing as the perfect marathon, but with the right event, a clear set of goals, and the proper marathon training schedule, you’ll be well on your way to creating the perfect race experience for you. Good luck!

By Patrick McCrann- Marathon Nation for Active.com

26.2 Reasons To Run A Marathon

I remember  watching Joan Benoit- Samuelson run the 1984 Woman’s Olympic Marathon, after running my first season of  Jr. High school track.  I ran the mile and thought no way could I ever run that far.  After running for 17 years and having others asking why run a marathon I came up with a few reasons.  Have you ever thought about running a marathon?  If so here are 26.2 reasons to go for the challenge.

1.  Weight Loss – With all the running/training calories you will burn running, you are bound to lose weight.  That is if you also eat healthy and not all junk stuff.  If you are already at ideal weight training will help you maintain you weight especially during the Thanksgiving Christmas Holidays when you tend to eat lots of homemade goodies.

2.  Mental Freedom – Running can be your time to zone out.  When you are out running, there are no distractions, or demands being put on you.  If you have children this can be a good time for yourself.

3.  Physical Health –  You will improve your cardiovascular health which in turn will give you a longer and healthier life.

4.  Tones Legs – Running is a great way to tone your legs.

5.  Finishing Medal – you will a medal as long as you finish and only 1% of Americans have one to proudly display in your house.  Once I ran a marathon and started “hitting the wall” and thought about the medal I would get if I finished- it was a cool looking one!

6.  The T-shirt – this will be a shirt you can wear that tells the world you ran a marathon. Friends have told me when they started “hitting the wall” they remember the shirt and they didn’t want to wear it if they didn’t finish.

7.  The Photo – Most marathons have a professional photographer stationed on the course that takes pictures of all the runners.  Later you can purchase photos of yourself running to show everyone.

8.  Helping others – often marathons have a team in training program.  These programs help raise money for lots of  different organizations.  The biggest one is team in training for leukemia they help raise money to fight leukemia.  Knowing all the miles are helping someone else will help motivate you.

9.  You have something to look forward to – when you register for a marathon you have something exciting to look forward to.  As the day gets closer you will be anxious and excited. This is especially true if the marathon located some where you have never visited.

10.  Emotional release – Feeling Angry? Frustrated? Stressed? Go for a run and the problems will seem to melt away.  Long runs are great to help release stress.

11.  It’s a good conversation topic – When someone asks Monday at work what you did this weekend you can say “I ran 18 miles” This will be a lot more interesting than most people who relax and watch TV the entire weekend.

12.  Runners High – After running endorphins are released into your system giving you a “high” feeling.  You feel like you are on top of the world and nothing that comes your way will bother you.

13.  Your neighbor/ friends are not doing it – Be different from the ones you hang around with.  Less than 1% of Americans ever finish a marathon.  So if you do you will become one of  the few.

14.  You will love your body – If you have a poor body image and find everything to complain about, training for a marathon will give you a new respect for what the human body can do.

15.  Carbs are good – When you run long distance carbs  give you the  energy you need to keep running for hours at a time without stopping.  So eating then are not bad.

16.  Dieting – if you are training for a marathon you can get away with the one piece of cake for snack

17.  Boost your confidence and self-esteem – Running a marathon is an accomplishment and you will feel good about what you achieved.  It will give you confidence to tackle any other challenges that come your way.

18.  You can race against “the stars” – every year famous people run in the big marathons, you can see their race results and race against them.  For example Oprah Winfrey ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 4:29. Ready for the challenge!

19.  You are highly motivated and committed person – training and finishing a marathon takes both.

20.  Need structure? – running a marathon takes exactly that.  You have to do the training if you want to finish.

21.  Enjoy the outdoors – you will be spending lots of time outdoors.  You will get to know your surrounding better than the neighbors.  If the marathon you decide to run is in another state you will get to see that area as well.  You may want to take pictures during the marathon because you will see lots of things.

22.  To say you did  it – You can say you ran a marathon, this could mean something different for everyone.  Some runners just want to finish and others want to qualify for Boston.

23.  Making more time for yourself – Even if you train with others you are still making time for yourself.  Getting away form the grind of everyday life/work.

24.  Time with friends – if you are training with partners you will look forward to this adult time with other runners.

25.  Crossing the finish line – You will feel like you just won a gold medal.  You will have a range of emotions all at once pride, relief, and excitement.  You will be tired but to excited to actually feel it.

26.  Doing it again – I have heard runners say it is similar to having children.  As soon as you finish you can’t imagine going through all that again.  But later you get thinking about  running one again and before you know it you have finished another marathon.

0.2  – When you pass the 26 mile marker you realize that you are only .2 from the finish and you suddenly will get this burst of adrenaline.  You may have hit the wall or had times during the race that you doubted yourself but you mad it.  Wait a few weeks and you will think about doing this all again.  It gets addictive and you will want to run faster and see new places.

Inspiring Running Story

Are You Inspired to Run? After reading this story you may want to lace up your shoes and run.

There were plenty of celebrity runners at the New York City marathon. Former NFL players and even the guy that lost a lot a weight eating Subway subs. just to mention a few. But the runner who grabbed the most headlines and the hearts of anyone cheering was Edison Pena. He was one of the rescued Chilean miners. He run six miles a day while trapped underground for 69 days. He had to walk most of the second half of the marathon and spent time in a medical tent icing his knees but he finished. Before the race he had said, “I would like to inspire young children to run because running makes you free.”

Edison Pena crossed the Central Park finish line with a time of 5:40:51 He was draped in a Chilean flag as Elvis music played over the speakers. The 34-year-old had a goal of finishing under 6 hours. All spectators cheered as # 7127 finished. If he didn’t finish he was still a winner in everyone eyes. He exceeded his goal even with the knee problems he experienced.

“First, I want to run this marathon, but secondly, I’d like to motivate those people who aren’t running the marathon to do so in the future,” he said before starting this morning. “I also want to especially motivate young children and youth to run because running makes you free.”

Pena’s trained in near-darkness, jogging each day while trapped underground in stifling heat and humidity. He and 32 other miners survived 69 days underground as the world waited. He said “running was his salvation” his way of proving how much he wanted to live. He cut his steel-tipped boots down to ankle height so he could train each morning and afternoon along the rocky, muddy 1,000-yard corridor where they were trapped. He dragged a large wooden pallet, that was attached to a cord tied to his waist to build up strength. NYC Marathon officials heard about Pena’s subterranean training and planned to invite him as an honored guest. But he wanted to actually run the race.

He started having trouble about an hour into the marathon.    At 14 miles “The Runner” as his fellow miners had nicknamed him left the race and entered the medical tent.
About 1 hour later with bags of ice tied to both knees he continued on the quest of finishing the marathon. He had a bad left knee that was injured during the collapse of the mine in Chile. This man could have given up when the pain in his knees forced him to go into the medical tent but he didn’t.

When the going gets tough think about this mans story and just run.

Celebrities Who Have Run A Marathon

Ever wonder who among the famous have run a marathon and where you would finish against them?  Here is a list of a few I found.

Athletes

  • Lance Armstrong– 7 time Tour De France Champion who started his athletic career as a triathlete -2006- New York City Marathon- 2:59:36
  • Kerri Strug – anyone who watched the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games remembers watching her land her vault on a broken ankle- 1999 – Houston Marathon – 4:12:06
  • Lynn Swan – former Pittsburgh Steeler wide reciever- 1993 – New York City Marathon- 4:26:21
  • Pat Tillman – former Arizona Cardinal – 2000- Avenue Of the Giants Marathon- 3:48 (he left football to go to Iraq and was killed)
  • Amani Toomer– former New York Giants wide reciever- 2010- New York City Marathon- 4:13

Politicians

  • Clarence Thomas– US supreme court justice- 1980- Marine Corps Marathon- 3:11
  • Mike Huckabee– Governor of Arizona- 2005- Little Rock Marathon- 4:39:04
  • George Bush– 43rd President of the USA- 1993- Houston Marathon- 3:44:52
  • John Edwards– former US senator- 1983- Marine Corps Marathon- 3:30:18
  • Al Gore– former VP of the USA- 1997- Marine Corps Marathon- 4:58:25
  • Sarah Palin– former Governor of Alaska- 2005- Humpy’s Marathon- 3:59:36

Actors

  • William Baldwin– New York City Marathon- 3:24:29

T.V.  Personality

  • Oprah Winfrey– inspired other to get fit and finish- 1994 -Marine Corps Marathon- 4:29:20
  • Ted Koppel– 1983- Marine Corps Marathon- 5:09:08
  • Cecil Tynam– Philadelphia channel 6 news- Meteorologist- 2001- Disney World Marathon- 2:54:36

Dimitrion Yodanidis– Guinness World Record holder for being the oldest man (98) to participate in a marathon.

I’d like to build another list of celebrities who have run a marathon so if you know any please let me know about them!