Jack Waitz has run plenty of marathons. He had actually forgotten how many in total. Waitz estimated around 15.
But none of those could match the personal value of his seventh time running New York. Waitz ran for his wife, Norwegian great and nine-time NYC Marathon winner Grete Waitz, who died of cancer in April at age 57. Waitz had run once in the last three weeks. He had been struggling with calf injuries since he honored his wife by running the New York Mini women’s 10K in June.
“If Grete had been around she have told me not to run today, I’m sure,” Jack said. “I asked her to take care of me and amazingly enough, I didn’t have any problem with the injuries I’ve had in the past months.”
Waitz, who had suggested his wife run the New York City Marathon when she set the world record in her 1978 debut, said he was surprised he finished the race and had planned to stop. But he used a trick that he said him and Grete would use to preserve their legs. After he finished the first five miles, he walked for a minute every mile until the end. He finished in 3 hours, 50 minutes and 41 seconds.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I didn’t think I could finish today but I wanted to try.”