A nine time winner of the New York Marathon, she was not only a great runner but a very humble and decent human being.

Waitz was a former Oslo schoolteacher, who won her first New York City Marathon in 1978, setting a world best in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 30 seconds in her very first attempt at running the distance. Her last victory was in 1988. She also won the London Marathon twice (1983 and 1986), the Stockholm Marathon in 1988 and five titles at the world cross-country championships from 1978-1981 and 1983.

Retired cyclist Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor, remembered Waitz in his Twitter feed: “a good friend and an incredible athlete”.

Said Sven Arne Hansen, Norwegian Athletics Federation President: “Grete is in my eyes one of the greatest Norwegian athletes of all time. Not only through her performance in the sport, but also as a role model for women in sports.”

Waitz is survived by her husband Jack and her two brothers Jan and Arild.