Posted by: runsinthefamily | April 19, 2011

What a week for running….

First – the always awe- inspiring Boston Marathon!  Even better this year with the addition of Joan Benoit Samuelson trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials at the age of 53.  (unfortunately she didn’t make it – but still had a great time.)  The tail-wind in Boston led to a fantastic race – fantastic times!  While Geoffrey Mutai doesn’t get the “world record” due to the net downhill, point-to-point Boston course, he certainly ran the fastest marathon of all time!  2:03:02!!!  Will we go under 2 hours in our lifetime?

Ryan Hall, finishing 4th- a new American Record!  2:04:59!!!   And then the awesome finish of the women’s race – Desiree Davila almost got the win!  She ran a smart, so smart race – Julie Threlkeld of Races like a Girl posted the best  analysis of the race I have read – go here to read what she says.  I love Kara Goucher, who doesn’t?  but wow- Desiree!   What a race!!!

Here’s a clip of the end:

Sorry – tried to post the clip, but it wouldn’t work.  Go to and look for the clip of the Boston Marathon titled Kilel is Women’s Champ.  It worked on my Google Chrome browser, Internet Explorer keeps wanting me to download Microsoft Silverlight. 

Now, this morning, the sad news of the passing of the great Grete Waitz.  She was the amazing runner from my youth – a pioneer of women’s running.  The nine time winner of the NYC marathon.  A dear friend of Fred Lebow of the NYRRC and the NYC marathon, who himself succumbed to cancer a few years ago.  The following is an article of their last race together:

Sports of The Times; Fred and Grete Win All of New York City
Published: November 2, 1992

HE could not leave it alone. Simply could not leave it alone. He did not get
it, that this New York City Marathon was all about him, all about Fred Lebow
and Grete Waitz running together, to celebrate his 60th birthday earlier
this year and his defiance of brain cancer.

The 25,000-plus other runners were stretching and going to the bathroom and
jumping in the morning chill and Finding that core of concentration that is
mandatory for the marathon. But Fred Lebow always has that force pounding
away inside him, so he did not need to retreat.

Instead, he pranced around the starting point at the bridge, giving
directions in his accent that has never quite lost the Transylvania. “Move
this rope. The bus should be further up.” And they obeyed him. They always
obey him.

His running partner, who had merely won this race nine times, was concerned
whether he could run 26 miles 385 yards after the chemotherapy in the last
two years. His own doctor was subtly trying to say it was not necessary that
Fred Lebow finish this race. And Fred Lebow darted around the finish line, a
slender man with a beard, under a lime-yellow cap, giving orders, copious

As soon as he stopped being in total control, the new arrangement at the
starting line would come loose, and male runners would surge ahead of the
clock, the worst start ever. Fred Lebow fretted about this, back with the
slow runners.

“We had to tell Fred to take off his jacket,” Waitz said later. “This was
after five minutes.”

Grete Waitz is not used to waiting five minutes to run, but this race was
special. She and Lebow and an entourage of around 10 friends took off at a
12-minute-mile pace, into Brooklyn, to see if Lebow could complete this race
for the first time since he turned it into a five-borough carnival.

He looked awful as he pitty-patted through Brooklyn. In his first 68
marathons, he had run in the mid three-hours at best, but now he walked
every couple of miles, on Waitz’s orders, moving his feet, the way he had
done in those first horrifying days in the cancer wing.

The crowds were out, families and bands and strangers, Koreans coming from
worship in a German Lutheran church, and at the corner of Cumberland and
Lafayette, a local named Spike Lee quietly waited for a glimpse of this man
of courage.

Lebow did not look from side to side, as most ordinary runners do in the
long middle miles. His face had the battle-fatigue look that James Jones
called ‘the thousand-mile stare.” But every so often he asked for the
walkie-talkie, to find out who was winning the race, and what had gone wrong
at the start.

They ran up Bedford Avenue, into the Williamsburg neighborhood of formally
dressed Satmar Hasidic men and women and children. Lebow used to shout from
the pace car, in Hebrew or Yiddish, imploring them to cheer for the runners,
and now some of them cheered the former Fred Lebowitz, who had escaped the
Holocaust, who had come to America, and now was running the race of his life.

“The people were fabulous,” Lebow would say later. “So many Hispanics. All
the people. This is what makes this city so fabulous.”

The crowds were huge on First Avenue but then came the lonely time, up
higher in Manhattan, when Lebow felt his knee ache. Waitz said later: “This
was the first time I really worried, when we both hit the wall. But Fred put
on a knee brace and he kept going.”

In Central Park, thousands of volunteers and city workers tended to the
weary finishers, but their hearts were with the frequent announcements:
“Fred is on the 21st mile. Fred is approaching the Park.” No two runners had
ever been anticipated so much, loved so much. “When we came into the park, I
got goose bumps,” Waitz would say.

Then they headed home, the motorcycles and support cars roaring into a side
chute, before Fred Lebow and Grete Waitz crossed the line together in
5:32.34. Willie Mtolo, who had won the race, had voluntarily stayed around
to hold one end of the special tape, and Mayor Dinkins held the other.

At the tape, Lebow and Waitz fell into a clinch, both of them crying,
surrounded by friends and family. Somebody reminded Lebow of his promise to
kiss the finish line, so he did it, but it was anticlimactic, after the
tears and the hugs. There have been many beautiful moments in the stadiums
and arenas of New York, but this moment, on a roadway in Central Park,
between a Romanian emigre and a Norwegian champion, could stand for all of them.

They were still crying after being whisked to a news conference. There were
his brothers, Simcha and Shlomo and Mike Lebowitz, and a sister, Sarah Katz,
and a dozen other family members. One of the women kissed Waitz and said in
pure New York: ‘You’re the best, Grete. You’re the best.”

For a man who had just run five and a half hours, Fred Lebow was still
loquacious. “I never realized that a marathon can be this long. Grete was
hurting, she was running so slow. I was hurting from running, period. ”

Later he said: “I never believed so many people would watch a miserable
runner two hours behind.”

Then Lebow asked his top assistant, Allan Steinfeld, what had gone wrong at
the start. The bedraggled runner did not look amused at the explanation.
This is what happens, his posture said, when you take one day off to run a race.

Photo: Grete Waitz and Fred Lebow crossing the finish line together. (Nancy
Siesel/The New York Times)



  1. Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog and I love it. I think it’s great that you and your family are runners! I am running my first half marathon in May and I’m super excited. 🙂 Thanks for all the great tips on your blog!

  2. Hi! Thanks! Good luck with your half marathon!

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