Norwegian Language Blog

Grete Waitz (1 October 1953 – 19 April 2011) Posted by on Apr 25, 2011 in Uncategorized


A  Norwegian legend, known to many as ´Grete the Great´, died last week.  Grete Waitz (pronounced ´Vites´), a Norwegian school teacher, was a spectacular role model who dedicated her life to health and fitness by becoming one of the greatest female marathoners in the world.  To tell you the truth, I didn´t know anything about Grete until after she died last week.  I try to get out and run with my dog most days, but I´ve never run more than 5 miles and I don´t have the desire to do any more than this.  As far as distance activity goes, I go for biking.  I would much rather bike a couple of centuries than run a marathon.  It´s not that I don´t enjoy running, but I find biking more enjoyable and easier on the body (and you can more easily stop along the way and enjoy a beer and a burger…).  However, I have major respect for individuals who are capable of distance running.


Grete Waitz was a member of the Norwegian Olympic team and participated many times in New York City marathons.  She began her long relationship with the New York City Marathon in 1978 as a pace maker.  Unlike most pace makers, Great made it all the way through the race.  Apparently after completion of the race, she was upset with her husband for persuading her to compete; she claimed she would never do it again.  How untrue that was-she went on to win 9 of them (more than anyone else)!  She finished the race with a record breaking 2 hours and 32 minutes!  In addition to many other victories, Waitz won a gold medal in the World Championship of Athletics in Helsinki, Finland in 1983 and a silver medal in the L.A. Olympics in 1984.


Waitz grew up in Oslo during a time when females were not expected to be distance runners.  Her family wasn´t very supportive of her, but she kept on training hard and competing in races all over the world.  She was a spectacular role model for both male and female runners and for athletes in general.  Not only was she a competitor but she utilized her love for distance running to benefit others.  After announcing that she had cancer in 2005, she began her public work to promote health and wellness.  For more than 25 years, Waitz was an ambassador for the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, an organization that promoted fitness for full time workers.  In 2007, she started a cancer care foundation called ´Aktiv mot kreft´(Active against Cancer).  In 2009, she announced a cooperative campaign with Adidas (one of her sponsors).  5% of all sales of Grete Waitz collections were given to hospitals for training and investment in PET scanners.  Grete Waitz received several prestigious awards from the Norwegian Royal family and the Norwegian government.  She was considered a true legend.  R.I.P. Grete Waitz-you are an inspiration to women in general and to the importance of health and fitness.


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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. Dan Bergeson:

    A wonderful tribute. Thanks for sharing!