FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"Marathoners of the Decades" Are Saluted in Celebration of the
40th Running of the New York City Marathon 2009
Nine-time winner Grete Waitz is one of eight past champions to be honored
New York, October 1, 2009—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" announced today 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."
Waitz, who celebrates her 56th birthday today, 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 a world record 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.
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.
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.
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.