The world lost a tremendous athlete and great woman today with the passing of marathon great, Grete Waitz. She had been battling cancer for a few years, but had kept the type of cancer private. When I saw the news of her death this morning, I was saddened. Grete, in her very first marathon, won it and set a new world record. It was the New York City Marathon (which she won NINE times). In many of the stories that I have read about her in the past, I was always inspired. She helped to pave the way for women to be involved in the longer distances.
If you know much about the history of running for women, in particular marathons, you know that there are all kinds of crazy myths that were going around that kept women out of these races. Anything from your uterus would fall out to not having the stamina to engage in such a rigorous activity. This always seemed crazy to me that people would think that, but then again, I shouldn’t be surprised.
I am so glad that women such as Grete came around and proved to people that yes, women can do this kind of stuff. And not only do it, but do it well. Yesterday was Patriot’s Day and the 115th running of the Boston Marathon. Racers were on the verge of setting course records. And an American woman came in second in the women’s race. As this was all happening, I was getting even more antsy and anxious about some day running this famous race. I still have a ways to go before I meet qualifying standards, but I know I will get there by remembering what great women such as Waitz have done in the past to pave the way for me to do this without problems.
So, thank you Grete for helping to open doors and helping to turn the marathon into a female-friendly event and world-wide phenomenon. For more, see what Amby Burfoot had to say about the great Grete. RIP Grete. I am sure you are running free now.