“I ran with my heart and not my head—which made the injury worse,” says Uta. After the Olympic Games marathon, it was discovered that in addition to a severe sciatica problem, she had suffered a hip stress fracture during the race in Atlanta.
“In Atlanta, the outcome of the race will rest on my ability to adjust to the course and the conditions,” she says. “It will be essential for me to run a proper pace. I think that about 20 runners have a legitimate chance to win and it is going to be very exciting—I’m looking forward to it.”
“It was amazing... so many people screamed my name even when it seemed impossible for me to win anymore”… “they were yelling, ‘You can catch her.’”... “Later I thought a lot about all the women who are now able to run in this race, just like the men. I feel good about that. We're equal now and everyone should have the same right.”... “It is a special thing, this Boston Marathon.”
For Uta winning again in her home town with both East and West sections of the great city now comfortably united, was almost as great a thrill as the first time she did it at the time of Germany’s reunification five years earlier. “It was an incredible feeling to win in my home town,” she said. “I dedicate this run to the people in Berlin.”
Uta would later say she felt confident about her fitness—but she also felt a painful and spreading blister on her foot. The blister became a serious problem on the downhills after Boston College, but did not inhibit her exuberance on her triumphant Boylston Street entrance. “This is sport, and anything can happen,” she said.
In the beginning of the 90's, many in Germany were shocked at Uta’s public statements of intending to best the existing records and they called her pronouncements “just hot air from an ‘Ossie’ (East German) drunk from the first taste of political freedom.” But her victories in New York in November 1993 (2:26:24) and Boston in April 1994 (2:21:45) silenced the doubters.
“I was thinking about the record with about three or four miles left,” says Uta. “But, I was really tired at miles 25 and 26, and I just wanted to finish. I had trained for a 2:22, so my 2:21:45 made it a really good run.”
At 28, Uta became the first German woman to achieve the dream of every world class distance runner: to wear the winner’s laurel leaves in New York City. Proof of its prestige is the enthusiasm of the two million spectators who line the 26.2-mile route.
A nagging foot injury had left her winning time clearly short of the target she had set for herself. But when Uta returned home to her apartment in Steglitz there was a surprise awaiting her. Neighbors had hung a banner on the front of the building. The moving message: “THAT WAS GREAT, UTA!”