Hall of Fame Inductee Grete Waitz dies at 57
April 19, 2011 (Utica, New York) -- The National Distance Running Hall of Fame announces the passing of Grete Waitz. who died early Tuesday at the Ulleval University Hospital in Oslo Norway. Grete battled cancer for six years; she was only 57 years old.
Grete was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in July 2000 along with Clarence DeMar, Steve Prefontain and Alberto Salazar. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Grete. She had historic impact on the sport of distance running with her nine victories in the New York City Marathon, two in London and one in Stockholm, said Tim Reed, Executive Director of the National Distance Running Hall of Fame.
At the age of 12, Grete joined a local sports club in Oslo. These clubs were noted for a variety of activities, from soccer, skiing, hiking to track and field. She took part in some competition such as shot put, long jump sprints but didn't win anything. It was at the Vidor Sports Club that Grete both discovered her athletic and met her future husband, Jack Waitz. At the age of 16, she became the Norwegian National Junior Champion in the 400 and 800 meters.
She trained for the Olympic Games while working as a middle school teacher. Grete won her first New York City Marathon in world record time of 2:32:30. She went on to win New York seven more times. In 1980, Grete quit her teaching job to run full time. Her athletic career spanned more than two more decades when she retired in 1990 from competitive running.
Grete has served as a spokesperson for the Chase Corporate Challenge, Adidas, Polar and Nordictrack. She started the Grete Waitz Run for Women in 1984; the first year the race drew 3,000 women runners; tt now draws 45,000 women. In 1992, she ran the New York City Marathon again this time with her friend Fred Lebow (Inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2001). Fred was in remission from brain cancer. It was the first and last time he ran the New York City Marathon. Fred Lebow was the Founding Race Director of the New York City Marathon. Grete also wrote the book "On the Run Exercise and Fitness for Busy People."
Last year she received the International Olympic Committee's Women and Sport Award for Europe. She still holds the Nowegian records in the 1,500 and 3,000 meter.
Grete is survived by her husband Jack Waitz and her two brothers, Jan and Arild Anderson. A private funeral Ceremony is planned for next week in accordance with her wishes.
The National Distance Running Hall of Fame is located in Utica, New York, along a stretch of the New York State Thruway that could be called "Hall of Fame Corridor." Established in 1998, it currently has 35 members, including Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Alberto Salazar, Grete Waitz, Kathrine Switzer, Joan Benoit Samuelson and the late Steve Prefontaine. The Hall is dedicated to honoring the sport of distance running and the athletes who have made contributions to the sport, from top runners and the most decorated athletes, to those who pushed the sport's barriers and eventually broke them. The Hall is housed in a three-story brownstone building and honors these athletes' talents, initiative and drive through the pictures, memorabilia and awards that decorate the exhibit rooms and pull the visitor into the runner's world, a place often inhabited by the runner alone as she/he challenges the limits of the human spirit. The Hall of Fame offers membership opportunities for road races, clubs, organizations and individuals, at a variety of levels. More information on this, or other information, can be found at www.distancerunning.com.