The 2024 Boston Marathon Celebration Jacket Pays Homage to Running Great Grete Waitz

She ran her first marathon for fun, then went on to become a world champion.

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After the late running legend Grete Waitz attempted her first marathon in New York in 1978, she found it so grueling that she threw her shoes at her husband, Jack, who was the one who suggested she run the race—for fun. That very same race, she also won the women’s division and set the course record by two minutes. It’s a story as legendary as Grete, who would go on to become a champion many times over—including nine wins at the New York City Marathon—and a pioneer of women in running. For this year’s Boston Marathon, taking place on Monday, adidas and the Boston Athletic Association are paying homage to Grete with the race’s most recognizable garment.

The 2024 Boston Marathon Celebration Jacket—a sartorial symbol of completing one of the most, if not the most, internationally-esteemed 26.2 mile course—comes through in a primarily blue colorway with red accents on the sleeves. The combination of hues represents Grete’s native Norway (it also commemorates this year’s Olympics in Paris, France) and recalls the jacket she wore in the first women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984 in Los Angeles.

Grete placed second that year, which to many seemed like a disappointment considering she had won the world championship the previous year in a “near perfect race,” according to her husband Jack. But, the fact that she even got to the Olympic start line was a feat of perseverance. “When she woke up the day before the race, she couldn’t run at all—she could barely walk. She had some problem with her back,” recalls Jack. A steady combination of grit and a day’s worth of intervention from Olympic doctors allowed her to compete. She won silver. “She remembered, and I remember, that race being a very good thing.”

The story is a testament to Grete’s tenacious and competitive character, which she balanced with a signature light heartedness. “Of course she was a very dedicated person and everything she did, she did perfectly. But, she was more relaxed than most people think,” says Jack. She was also famously loyal. Look no further than her partnership with adidas, one that spanned her entire career and continued after she passed away after a battle with cancer in 2011. “Actually, [when brands started offering Grete sponsorships], another sporting goods company contacted us first,” says Jack. “But Grete had used adidas since she was a girl and she stood with people who helped her early on in her career.”

While Grete wore the Three Stripes breaking the ribbon across countless finish lines, the brand/athlete relationship would take new meaning in 2009 when adidas began its support of the non-profit, AKTIV Against Cancer, co-founded by Grete with Helle Aanesen. Adidas has raised $13 million for the charity, which supports integrating physical activity into cancer treatment.

Grete was also known for her generosity within the running community, offering advice to runners of all abilities, stopping to take photos and being an ambassador for the sport. “I remember she talked to a person in the hotel lobby and he told her that he was doing a little running,” says Jack. “The next morning she had made a handwritten program for the guy.” That spirit of welcoming others into the sport continues. This year, 20 charity runners will partake in the race on behalf of the AKTIV Against Cancer Foundation, providing them the opportunity to be a part of one of the world’s most famous races. And thousands more will bear her native country’s colors and her enduring legacy when they zip on their Celebration Jacket after crossing the finish line on Boylston Street.

The Boston Marathon Celebration Jacket is available on adidas’ website for $120 USD.

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