A challenging course, Grete's Great Gallop is 13.1 miles, which breaks down to 2 laps around Central Park and a mile home stretch. With monstrous hills to climb, the second loop can definitely play some mental tricks on you, and no one should plan on running this race for their PR. Regardless of its difficulty, with this race, comes great joy from the story behind it. I felt overwhelmingly honored to be able to run in the memory of one of the greatest female runners, a Norwegian runner, but a celebrity to NY, Grete Waitz.
When I think about Grete and her record of winning the NYC Marathon 9 times I can't help but to be left in awe. In 1979, she became the first woman in history to run the marathon in under two and a half hours. Unbelievable!
Her friendship with Fred Liebow, co-founder of the NYC marathon and New York Road Runners' President for over 20 years, was something beautiful to see, especially as Fred used running as a way to fight back against his diagnosis of brain cancer in 1990. You may have seen me mention on social media that this race was sponsored by Fred's Team. This Team was created to raise funds to support Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK). The year of his diagnosis, Fred declared New York City Marathon's first official charity to be MSK. In an amazing effort, more than $650,000 was raised by a group of runners to support cancer research at MSK in 1991. One year later, Grete ran side by side with Fred during his final NYC Marathon, in celebration of his cancer's remission and his 60th birthday.
Sadly, both runners, Grete and Fred, lost their personal battles to cancer. However, their courage, athleticism, spirit, and love for running lives on and is celebrated during this race. It's as though you can feel something in the air when awaiting at the start line behind so many wearing orange shirts for this team.
I enjoyed hearing fellow members of Team for Kids share with me their stories of meeting Grete years ago when she came to speak to them with encouragement and admiration of the work they were doing to raise funds to help kids run. Although I never had the opportunity to meet this woman myself, I feel as though she did so much for the running community I call "home."
I finished the 1/2 in under 2 hours, which was my overall goal, with a negative split. But I left the course realizing what is possible when you get a bunch of crazy runners together who are fighting to make a change and have an impact on this world.
Their stories become legends.
I dedicate this run to all those suffering from cancer and for family and friends by their side, fighting the good fight. Love in all you do.