Campus News

Joan Benoit Samuelson '79 Prepares for Final Marathon

Story posted April 14, 2008

On Sunday, April 20, 2008, Joan Benoit Samuelson '79 will run what she has said will be her final competitive marathon in Boston. The setting couldn't be more appropriate. Samuelson's amazing career, in which she has become the sport's most recognizable figure, began there in 1979.

Joan Benoit 200.jpg
Joan Benoit '79 crosses the finish line, winning the 1979 Boston Marathon.

Joan Benoit was a senior at the College when, wearing a Bowdoin singlet, she crossed the Boston Marathon's finish line in what was then a course-record of 2:35:15.

That impressive finish was just the beginning. A second Boston victory would come in 1983 in 2:22:43, a world record at the time. The following year, she took the gold medal in the inaugural Olympic women's marathon, winning by a quarter-mile in 2:24:52.

Samuelson returns to Boston for the U.S. Olympic women's marathon trials to be held just one day before the Boston Marathon.

Trial Run
Emily LeVan200.jpg
LeVan represented the U.S. in the marathon a the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Helsinki in August 2005.

Joan Benoit Samuelson will be joined in the Olympic women's marathon trials by fellow alumna Emily LeVan '95.

LeVan is one of 19 U.S. runners who met the Olympic 'A' standard of 2:39:00. LeVan qualified with a 2:37:01 in Boston in 2006.


"I can't think of a more appropriate place," Samuelson told the Maine Sunday Telegram. "This is it. It's Boston, where I started my career and where I'm ending it. It's been a great run."

The first three finishers qualify for the United States team for the Beijing Olympics this summer.

Samuelson says she holds no hope of winning; she told The New York Times, "It's just me against me. I want to run 2:50 at age 50."

The so-called Matriarch of Marathoning has been the subject of several recent newspaper articles heralding her preparation for the Olympic trials.

In addition to the articles in the New York Times and Maine Sunday Telegram, The Boston Globe also ran a lengthy piece, which includes several mentions of the College, including the fact that her son has been enrolled as a member of the Class of 2012.

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