1982 – Charlotte Teske

Source: George Aitkin via Facebook

16-Jan-1982 – Orange Bowl Marathon – 2:29:01.6 – Nike Elite
Date of birth: 23-Nov-1949
Nationality: West German (at the time)
World Record duration: 7 months, 27 days

The athlete:                
It is surprisingly difficult to find any information about Charlotte Teske and her win at the 1982 Orange Bowl Marathon in Miami. What we do know is that she started marathon running in 1976 and just broke three hours in her first attempt. Despite promising herself she’d never do it again, she would continue running marathons and by 1980 she became the third German runner to get below 2:40.

Her performance in Miami in 1982 would mark her as the first German runner to break 2:30. This is considered to have been the marathon world record by the Association of Road Running Statisticians, an independent group created years later by many former racing officials and supported by researchers from across the world. This is because the course Grete Waitz ran at the New York City Marathon was found to be short in 1985, although only performances from 1981 were invalidated by World Athletics.

In any case, that victory would be overshadowed by what she achieved at the 1982 Boston Marathon later that year. Until the 22nd mile it was Grete Waitz who held the lead, heading for what looked like a 2:23 finish. Waitz began suffering unbearable pain in her legs, finally having to be rushed away to hospital. Teske had no idea what had happened, assuming she was still second.

It was only after the finish that she was finally informed that she had won, with Jacqueline Gareau six minutes behind in second. Teske was circumspect, saying she felt she hadn’t really beaten Waitz. Unfortunately an inflammation of her sciatic nerve curtailed her efforts at the 1984 Olympics, but by her retirement she had secured many more marathon victories. This was alongside many national championships in Germany, her last win coming in 1990 at the Munich Marathon.

The shoes:                   

We have no pictures from the 1982 Orange Bowl Marathon, of Teske or otherwise. We do however have many of Teske from the 1982 Boston Marathon and the picture for this profile is from the 1983 Toronto Marathon where Teske came second (unfortunately the cost of embedding images from the 1982 Boston Marathon was too high). Importantly is that it shoes the same distinctive colourway and overlays of the Nike Elite. This model was easily one of the most successful from the growing Nike stable, first releasing in 1976.

It was the latest entry by Nike in their highly successful waffle racer series. The heel was flared out to give greater stability, the seamless nylon upper designed to prevent blisters. EVA foam ensured that there was enough cushioning to last the marathon distance. Such was their confidence, Nike compared the Elite to the Porsche 911 Turbo on their ads. It would seem unlikely that Teske would have worn another model to set the marathon world record given she won the Boston Marathon in them only several months later, and continued to favour the model into the next year.

The Nike Elite has been retroed a few times over the years, most recently in 2012. It came out in the colorway worn by Teske and several other new takes on the silhouette, so there should be pairs floating around out there.