Nine-time winner Grete Waitz is one of eight past champions to be honored
NEW YORK - Nine-time New York City Marathon winner Grete Waitz of Norway leads a roster of legends and champions honored as the "Marathoners of the Decades by New York Road Runners president and CEO and race director Mary Wittenberg as part of the celebration of the 40th running of the event. This year's race will take place on Sunday, November 1.
A distinguished panel of international sports journalists and broadcasters and New York Road Runners staff made the selections by voting for one man and one woman from each decade since the first running of the race in 1970. The winners were chosen for their accomplishments in New York and the lasting legacy of their triumphs in the sport of long-distance running.
"Grete holds a unique place in our history and in the hearts of all marathon fans, and it's fitting that she is at the front of this extraordinary group of all-time greats," said Wittenberg. "Each of these champions - beginning with Miki and Bill, who passed the torch of greatness to Grete, Alberto, German, Tegla, and today to Paula and Marilson - have left an indelible mark on our sport and the New York City Marathon."
1970s - Bill Rodgers (USA) and Mike Gorman (USA)
The men's honoree is Bill Rodgers, 61, of the United States, who won the race four consecutive times beginning in 1976 - the year of the inaugural five-borough New York City Marathon. Rodgers also won the Boston Marathon four times (1975, 1978-80).
The women's honoree is two-time winner Miki Gorman, 74, of the United States, who played a memorable role in the 1976 event when she finished in 2:39:11, then the second-fastest women's marathon in history and just a minute off the world record, at 41 years of age. The last American woman to win the New York crown, Gorman retained her New York title in 1977, finishing in 2:43:10.
1980s - Grete Waitz (NOR) and Alberto Salazar (USA)
Waitz, who recently celebrated her 56th birthday, was honored as the women's Marathoner of the Decade for the 1980s. Waitz won seven of her record nine New York City Marathon crowns during that period, including five consecutive wins from 1982 to 1986. She broke the world record in her first three appearances in New York (1978-1980), and she retired from competitive racing after finishing fourth in 1990.
"I am very happy and also proud to be selected the marathoner of the 1980s in the most prestigious marathon in the world," said Waitz.
The men's honoree for the 1980s is three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar of the United States. The last American man to win the crown, Salazar won three consecutive titles from 1980 to 1982. He made his marathon debut in 1980 and set an unofficial world best of 2:08:13 - still the fastest New York City Marathon finish by an American man - in 1981. Salazar, 51, now coaches several world class American runners including Kara Goucher, Galen Rupp and Dathan Ritzenhein.
1990s - Gérman Silva (MEX) and Tegla Loroupe (KEN)
The men's honoree is back-to-back winner Gérman Silva, 41, of Mexico (1994-1995). Silva became famous in the 1994 race when he took a wrong turn into Central Park in the 26th mile. Silva took 12 steps before realizing his mistake, turning around, and catching and passing his training partner and compatriot Benjamin Parades for the win.
The women's honoree is two-time champion Tegla Loroupe, 36, of Kenya, who became the first African woman to win a major marathon with her 1994 victory in New York in 2:27:37. Her second victory came in 1995 in a finishing time of 2:28:06. She later broke the world record twice, running 2:20:47 in Rotterdam in 1998 and 2:20:43 in Berlin in 1999.
2000s - Marilson Gomes dos Santos (BRA) and Paula Radcliffe (GBR)
The men's honoree is two-time winner and defending champion Marilson Gomes dos Santos, 32, of Brazil. Gomes made history when he surprised a stellar field, including Paul Tergat and Hendrick Ramaala, in 2006 to become the first South American winner and a hero in his home country. He repeated his victory last year, finishing in 2:08:43. Gomes will be eyeing a third crown; that achievement would tie him with Salazar for the second-most New York City Marathon men's titles.
The women's honoree is marathon world record-holder and returning defending champion Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain. Radcliffe, 35, is only the second woman to win the New York City Marathon three times, claiming her most recent victory last year in 2:23:56. Radcliffe captured her first crown in 2004 in dramatic fashion when she outdueled Kenyan Susan Chepkemei by three seconds in the closest women's finish in race history.
The premier event of New York Road Runners, the ING New York City Marathon is one of the world's great road races, drawing nearly 105,000 applicants. The race attracts many world-class professional athletes, not only for the more than $600,000 in prize money, but also for the chance to excel in the media capital of the world before two million cheering spectators and a worldwide broadcast reach of 330 million. As any one of the nearly 788,000 past participants will attest, crossing the finish line in Central Park is one of the great thrills of a lifetime. For more information, visit: www.INGnycmarathon.org.