Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks on Greeting Winners of the New York Marathon

October 27, 1982

The President. Well, we have some very distinguished and honored guests here today, and their families are also with us. We welcome Alberto Salazar, Grete Waitz, Linda Down to the White House and congratulate them all on their New York Marathon performances.

I am told that some of our White House staff were also in the meet, but only one of them has checked in as yet. [Laughter] So, I don't know how that's come out.

You all know, of course, that Alberto's winning time for the 26 miles was 2 hours and 9 minutes. This is his third consecutive year in winning the New York Marathon, and he also has won the Boston Marathon. Grete won the women's division, the fourth win for her in 5 years—time of 2 hours and 27 minutes. She won with style and grace, and that's kind of incomprehensible to me. I do 5 minutes a day on a treadmill and then walk away from it very slowly. [Laughter]

Linda Down did not match Alberto's and Grete's time, but I'm sure that both Alberto and Grete would be the first to say that no one in that marathon showed more heart and more courage. Linda, the victim of cerebral palsy, is more familiar with the word "victory" than "victim." She did the 26 miles of the marathon in 11 hours—the first person ever to attempt to do that with the aid of crutches. And, Linda, if all of those people out there wouldn't say I was being political, I'd say you truly "stayed the course."

Ms. Down. Thank you very much.

The President. It's an honor to receive them here at the White House. I'm pleased to have them here with us and to have this opportunity to congratulate them for all that they have done.

That concludes our photo session. I'm sure you have all the photos you want, and we shall go back inside now.

Reporter. Mr. President, David Broder says that a number of Republican Senators are in trouble. Do you agree?

The President. What have they done? [Laughter]

Q. He says there's danger of losing the election.

The President. Well, I don't feel that way, Sam [Sam Donaldson, ABC News], but that's another subject. This is the subject for this morning.

Q. Well, Mr. President, do you think the Republicans will be winners next week?

The President. I'm not going to take any more questions here, because we're here to honor these young people.

Mr. Salazar. I'd like to present this model of Nike-Mariah shoes. They're the same brand which I wore in winning the New York Marathon. I'd like to present these to President Reagan, and I hope that these will help him in his race for reelection. And I'm sure that he will be reelected President.

The President. Alberto, thank you very much. I promise not to use them in a marathon. Thank you very much.

Q. Does he know something we don't know, Mr. President?

The President. What?

Q. Does he know something we don't know?

The President. Let's not embarrass him.

Mr. Salazar. I'm not embarrassed. I'm no economic expert, but I say, "Stay the course."

The President. Thank you very much.

Ms. Waitz. I want to say thank you, Mr. President, and as a representative from a small country I feel very honored to be here today. And I hope that my presence here can be an inspiration for female athletes all over the world. Thank you.

Ms. Down. Hi. I just want to say thank you for inviting me here. And even though I was the tortoise in the race, I think I felt very blessed to have had the chance to do it, and I felt honored to be an American and a woman. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks on Greeting Winners of the New York Marathon Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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