- Forty years after Joan Benoit Samuelson’s historic victory at Boston in 1979, she returned to the course and completed the race in 3:04.
- She was hoping to come within 40 minutes of her 2:35:15 victory. She crushed that goal, finishing within 30 minutes of that time.
But Joanie, the 1984 Olympic marathon medalist who has inspired millions of runners over the past four decades, rarely settles for just reaching the logical goal.
On Marathon Monday, while wearing a similar Bowdoin College singlet to honor her win in 1979 when she was 21 years old, the 61-year-old finished the race well under her goal time, clocking an even 3:04.
Boston Marathon legend Joan Benoit Samuelson finishes the Boston Marathon 40 years after her historic win. pic.twitter.com/vCrfvS0ttp- WBZ | CBS Boston News (@wbz) April 15, 2019
“To be here, 40 years later and being able to run, let alone being able to run a marathon, I feel blessed,” Benoit Samuelson said.
Samuelson said she wasn’t sure how her body would react to the increasing temperatures out on the race course, and even pulled a calf muscle. Her first half split was a blistering fast 1:29:55, which is under 7-minute mile pace. But she said her key was running the race patiently and consistently in the second half of the race.
“There were runners I saw go by me, and I would say, ‘Be patient. Be patient,’” Samuelson said. “I caught many of them, but not all of them. I think when you’re out there that somebody will say something that’s a bit of a spark.”
After her first Boston win four decades ago, Samuelson went on to claim another title at the 1983 race in a then-world record of 2:22:43. A year later, she made history as the first woman to win gold in the inaugural women’s Olympic marathon at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Samuelson continued her historic streak by setting the American record at the time to 2:21:21 at the 1985 Chicago Marathon.
As a masters runner, Samuelson has set her sights on breaking barriers for her age group. At age 50, she ran 2:49:08 to place 90th at the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials, also in Boston. When she was 53 years old, Samuelson set a record for her age when she ran 2:47:50 at the 2010 Chicago Marathon. She returned to Boston again in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Samuelson’s last big marathon was the 2018 Chicago Marathon, where she finished strong in 3:12:13-just behind her daughter Abby Samuelson, who crossed the line in 3:11:20. (Abby ran a 3:10:28 today.)
For Boston, however, she said her build-up was much better. Samuelson credited her cross-training of Nordic skiing and four to five runs of 20-plus miles as getting her in great shape for today.
“The crowds were incredibly supportive of the singlet, and also of me. It was unbelievable,” she said. “I have my little niche on the hills. I just get in on the left side and sort of sneak up. The crowds know me there. Even the younger fans who weren’t there 40 years ago. They were yelling my name or yelling, ‘Go Bowdoin.’”
What’s next for Joan? She’s intrigued about completing all the World Marathon Majors-she’s run NYC, Boston, and Chicago numerous times, but never London, Tokyo, or Berlin.
“My 35th wedding anniversary coincides with Berlin,” she said. “But I don’t think I’ll be in as good of shape as I was here.”
('You Might Also Like',)