In these already depressing times, it saddens me (perhaps more than it otherwise might) to see one of my genuine heroes succumb, in this case, the great Grete Weitz, who passed away this week at 57, from cancer. Grete, of course, was an unprecedented nine time champion at the New York Marathon (including three in a row in world record time, a multiple Olympian (taking a silver medal in the 1984 marathon) for her native Norway, and had numerous other distance running accolades.
Every October, the New York Road Runners Club stages their annual "Norway Festival" in Central Park, featuring a half marathon called "Grete's Great Gallop," typically spaced about four weeks before the NYC Marathon. Grete herself was usually there, and would high-five those running it, including on at least one occasion I recall, me.
Here is a piece from 2008 including her own reflection on perhaps her most famous finish, a 5 1/2 hour victory lap in 1988 run next to legendary NYC Marathon director Fred Lebow, who was himself then dying of cancer... in what would be both of their final marathons. Grete's husband Jack Weitz gave us Grete's watchwords, which may be the best advice I can give myself, or anyone else as we try to do what needs to be done in ever more pressing times: IF YOU GIVE UP, YOU LOSE.
Simple as that. R.I.P., Grete.