Campus News

"Marathon Matriarch" Joan Benoit Samuelson '79 Breaks Record in Boston

Story posted April 21, 2008

It was a triumphant return for Joan Benoit Samuelson '79. Returning to Boston nearly 30 years after winning the first of two Boston Marathons to run the U.S. Olympic women's marathon trials on April 20, 2008, Samuelson exceeded even her own expectations.

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

With a goal of "running 2:50 at age 50," she clocked in at 2:49:08, putting her 90th out of 124 finishers, and in doing so, set an American record for the women's 50-54 age group.

"The support around the course was unbelievable," she told The New York Times.

"I ran a very conservative race. All I wanted was to break three hours and finish."

Read the New York Times article.

Samuelson has been a favorite in Boston since winning the Boston Marathon in 1979.

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.

Evily LeVan '95, who qualified for the U.S. Olympic women's marathon trials with a 2:37:01 in Boston in 2006, finished in 67th place with a time of 2:45:45.

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

A second Boston Marathon victory came 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.

At the U.S. Olympic women's trials she again finished wearing a Red Sox hat handed her by a spectator.

"It was spontaneous, like in 1979," she told the Times.

"There were a lot of great years in between and not so great years for the Red Sox and myself."

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