While writing this post about the toughest guy I ever met, I tried to think of icons of toughness to illustrate different facets of that quality. One of the first people to come to mind was Grete Waitz. I wrote this about her:
"Grete Waitz won the New York Marathon nine separate times. During one of those races, she was suffering from diarrhea; but had she used one of the Port-O-Sans along the way, she would have lost valuable time. So, she simply continued to run, the excrement dribbling down her leg. That one race alone put her in the Toughness Hall of Fame."
Waitz died today in Oslo, after a six year battle with cancer, at age 57. I knew little about her other than her achievements in running, but always had the impression of a very decent -- as well as tough -- person.
To mention how Weitz once had a bad case of diarrhea might seem to be robbing a dead woman of her dignity. But in fact, there's no greater dignity than overcoming physical infirmity through sheer grit.
Grete, thank you for being such an inspiration.