1. Grete Waitz was a Norwegian marathon runner and former world record holder.
2. In 1979, she became the first woman in history to run the marathon in under two and a half hours.
3. She won nine New York City Marathons between 1978 and 1988, more than any other runner in history.
4. She won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and a gold medal at the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki.
5. Her other marathon victories included winning the London Marathon in 1983 and 1986.
6. She was also a five-time winner of the World Cross Country Championships.
7. Born Grete Andersen in Oslo, Norway, Waitz was a talented young runner, but had difficulty in getting her parents to take her potential profession seriously.
8. However, Waitz ran at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich in the 1500 metres, and to support her athletic career she studied at a teachers college.
9. In her teen years, Waitz won national junior titles in Norway in the 400 and 800 metres.
10. At age 17 she set the European junior record for 1500 m with a time of 4:17 and won a bronze medal at the European Championships in this event in 1974.
11. In Oslo a year later she lowered this record with an 8:45.4 effort, then in 1977 she won a gold medal at this distance at the inaugural IAAF World Cup in Athletics meet in Düsseldorf with a personal best time of 8:43.50.
12. Two years later in Montreal she won a silver medal, also in Oslo, she came to her all-time personal best of 8:31.75.
13. Her 4:00.55 career best in the 1500 m, set in Prague in 1978, still stands as the Norwegian national record.
14. Her last race was a victory at 5000 metres in Oslo in June 1982, in which her 15:08.80 was the second best in history, falling only a half second short of the world record set three weeks earlier by Mary Slaney.
15. She went on to win the race nine times and broke the world record three years in a row.
16. Besides her marathon victories in New York and the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki, Waitz also won the London Marathon in 1983 and 1986 .
17. The only significant award she did not win in her career was an Olympic victory.
18. As an up-and-coming 19-year-old in Munich and then a 23-year-old running the 1500 m in Montreal , she competed, but did not medal, in an event that was far short of her specialty.
19. In 1980, Norway was one of the countries that decided to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
20. At the 1984 Summer Olympics, she was beaten in the marathon by Joan Benoit, placing second to take the silver medal.