Marathon Champion, Record-Holder and Beloved Role Model Dies Too Young

April 21st, 2011 by Michael Tabor
Cancer has ended the life of the almost super-human, Norwegian marathon champion, Grete Waitz at the age of 57 on Tuesday, April 18. I say super- human because she won nine (9) New York City Marathons (26.2 miles) and four of which were in record time. Grete also ran other marathons  – she won the London Marathon twice and the Stockholm once (It’s hard for me to even fathom finishing a grueling  26.2 mile marathon, never mind win on a consistent basis.) One has to wonder how many miles she has actually been clocked running in her lifetime in preparation for and in the sheer number of races in which she had participated. (I don’t know the official number of races in which she ran – there were so many- but she took part in 10 mile, 10 kilo., 15 kilo and more.)
Grete Waitz was often called the graceful champion for her modesty and athleticism. She never boasted about her accomplishments and was actually embarrassed by all the adulation that was bestowed upon her.  Whether or not she would acknowledge this fact, she was a role model for not only female runners but for all; and not just for running races. Grete was also a schoolteacher and taught geography in the Oslo school system.
Ms. Waitz was diagnosed with cancer (she never publically revealed what kind) in 2005. It must have been an absolute shock when you consider the fact that she spent her whole life exercising. I’m certain she had a robust cardiovascular system but cancer does not discriminate. Athletes and couch potatoes alike get cancer.
It’s only natural to ponder over this killer – cancer – for which we will never find a cure. (cure is an unsophisticated word for a disease which takes on 1000s of different forms. Every Physician will talk about how cancer manifests itself differently with every single individual diagnosed with the dreadful disease.)
I personally felt a sense of helplessness in terms of thinking about controlling the number of days of life each individual is allotted. No one worked harder at staying healthy than Grete Waitz. Smokers and alcoholics may live to 80 and she dies at the age of 57. God bless Grete Waitz and may she rest in peace.
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