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Biofile Grete Waitz Interview 2010

By Scoop Malinowski

DOB: October 1, 1953-2011 Birthplace: Oslo, Norway.

Running inspirations: “My brothers when I was a young girl. And later it was the European track runners, European middle-distance runners. And later, when I moved on to the roads… I really didn’t have any idols because I was, more or less, the first one. I ran my first marathon here in New York 30 years ago and set the world best. If I look back, the most important thing was my brothers who inspired me to take up running. Then I reached the national level and international level. They were my best training partners, with my husband. So I had three men in my life who were all important to me.”

Hobbies/Leisure Activities: “Before I was a professional runner I was a school teacher. So, running 110 miles a week, having a full time job as a school teacher – I didn’t really have time for a hobby. But in the last 5-10 years I’ve been involved in getting people to be aware of the importance of being active. Because inactivity is our biggest health threat. I’m motivating young people, adults, to be more active in their daily life.”

Favorite Movies: “Thrillers, mysteries, court dramas. I saw it yesterday – Pride and Glory with Colin Farrell and Ed Norton.”

Musical Tastes: “The best music is quiet. Peace and quiet. I’m not into music. I never have the radio on. I like it quiet.”

Last Book Read: “The last one by John Sandford, I just started it. Last one finished was The Given Day by Dennis Lehane.”

Favorite TV Shows: “24, The Wire, and The Shield. I like action [laughs].”

Favorite Meal: “Baked potato, grilled swordfish and vegetables.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Strawberry.”

First Marathon Memory: “My first New York City Marathon in 1978 here in New York. It was terrible even though I won it and set the world best. I crossed the finish line and said, Never again. Because I was a track runner, a world class middle-distance runner. I was talked into running the marathon by my husband. I didn’t come into the race being prepared as a marathoner because I didn’t have the long runs. I had to pay for that. I couldn’t walk for the next three days.”

First Car: “Oh, a Mazda.”

Current Car: “A Saab.”

Pre-Race Feeling: “Think about the race, running it in my head several times, being nervous.”

Greatest Sports Moment: “Oh, on the track, winning the World Cup in 3000 meters in 1977. In the marathon, winning the world championship in Helsinki. In cross-country, winning the world championship in 1983 in Gateshead, England. I won it several times, five times, but that was the victory that meant the most to me.”

Most Painful Moment: “My first New York City Marathon [smiles].”

Funny Career Memory: “Not really. Being a World Cup marathoner on that level is not a lot of fun [smiles]. Well, I have been to track races where I didn’t bring my spikes and had to run in other people’s spikes. That’s the only thing I can think of, off the top of my head.”

Favorite Athletes To Watch: “I watch all major marathons. I like Paula Radcliffe. Paula has a passion for the sport, she is a tough woman. She has been through ups and downs, but she is still the same Paula that I met many, many years ago, before she became a world class athlete. When she was still running track in England.”

Favorite Sports Outside Running: “Cross country skiiing. I watch the Tour de France. Endurance sports is something I enjoy watching.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “What I like to see is generosity. If you have the chance to give back to your community, if you are in a position that you can give something back, I like to see people do that. Being generous.”

Career Accomplishments: Winner of nine New York City Marathons (1979-1980, 1982-1986, 1988) and two London Marathons (1983, 1986); 1972 and 1976 Olympian (1500 meters); 1984 Olympic silver medalist in marathon; 1988 Olympian (marathon); 1983 world champion in marathon in Helinski (lowered the marathon world best by an astounding nine minutes); In 2008 King Harald V bestowed upon her the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, First Class, in recognition of being an important role model.

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