The widower of the famous Norwegian runner will honor his late wife in next month’s race.
From: NYRR Media
“I am privileged to be here,” Jack Waitz told the crowd in New York’s Central Park on Saturday morning, the sun having driving away an early rain. “I wish I had my wife here, but she’s with me all of the time anyway.”
Waitz was in New York as a special guest of the Norwegian Festival, a day that for years has honored nine-time New York City Marathon winner Grete Waitz with a celebration of Norwegian culture and a pair of races, 1.7 miles and a half marathon. This year, the race fell on what would have been her 58th birthday.
“Grete may have been born a Norwegian,” said NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg in her opening remarks to cheers from the crowd, “but I know in the hearts and minds of so many of us, Grete was a New Yorker.”
Grete Waitz died of cancer in April, and the 1,583 finishers of the 1.7-miler and 4,957 finishers of Grete’s Great Gallop Half Marathon paid their respects in the best way possible. Jack Waitz was among them, completing the half marathon in 1:44:19 alongside NYRR president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.
“It’s been a long time since I have done a half marathon,” said Waitz afterward. “It felt great again.”
So great that Waitz, declaring a nagging calf injury healed, announced afterward that he would run the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 6. He is expected to be joined by several family members, including Grete’s brothers Jan and Arild Andersen; nephews Espen Andersen and Terje Desmot Hammertoft; and Michael Darwell, who is married to Arild’s daughter.
“I gotta say, Grete would love this because the idea was that I was supposed to help Jack and of course he had to pace me like the whole last five miles,” said Wittenberg of the half marathon. “We had a great time and I’m absolutely convinced Grete is with us.”