Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011

Grete Waitz

Grete was a trailblazer in women's distance running and a hero to so many, including me. I loved and looked up to Grete for her achievements on all three running surfaces: track, cross-country and road. (She set marathon world records and won the New York City Marathon nine times, more than any other runner.) She demonstrated how to train hard, how to win and how to succeed, and through it all, her love of running shone through.

When I was lucky enough to meet Grete and get to know her, she became even more of an idol to me. She was genuine, humble, strong and true, with a deep and sharp sense of humor and compassion. After she was diagnosed with cancer, she continued her 5 a.m. training sessions, even in the midst of grueling chemotherapy. She never wavered in her quest to help people all over the world learn the joys and rewards of running.

I love the idea of the cherry tree planted in her honor in Central Park, in the heart of a city that adored her. She will forever be present in spirit at the finish line of the New York City Marathon.

Radcliffe is the current women's world-record holder in the marathon