Grete Waitz

  • No. 1173. When she crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon in 1978, Grete Waitz was nothing more than a bib number. It was, after all, her first marathon. Yet the Norwegian runner, who died April 19 at 57, six years after being diagnosed with cancer, set a world record that year by running the marathon in 2 hr. 32 min. She then went on to win an unprecedented eight more New York City Marathons, became the first female marathoner to break the 2½-hour mark and won silver in the 1984 Olympics. Back in Norway, she was a humble hero who possessed one of the most recognizable names in her sport--a name that didn't even appear in the original race program back in 1978.