Campus News

Joan Benoit Samuelson '79 Brings Sustainability to Beach to Beacon 10K Race

Story posted July 30, 2009

Marathon matriarch Joan Benoit Samuelson '79 has made good use of her running experience.

The 1984 Olympic gold medalist and two-time Boston Marathon winner has inspired legions of runners during her amazing career — most recently with her half-marathon win in High Point, N.C., in early May in which she beat everyone, including more than 300 men, to the finish line by more than five minutes. And she accomplished this a week shy of her 52nd birthday.

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

The woman known as Joanie energized the sport of running with the creation of what is now known as the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K road race.

Samuelson is bringing other aspects of her experience to the race, whose 12th running will be held Saturday, August 1, 2009.

An article in the July 30 edition of the Portland Press Herald highlights the many "green" practices in place for the race, and notes that Samuelson, who majored in history and environmental studies, is more in tune than most with her surroundings, having logged more than 125,000 miles in her career.

"I feel like I'm a human barometer," says Samuelson in the article. "I've seen environmental changes during that time, whether it be ambient air quality or erosion or eutrophication of our ponds and lakes or other water bodies."

Writer Glenn Jordan notes that it's not simply that Samuelson can toss around words like "eutrophication" — an overabundance of nutrients in a body of water, speeding up plant growth and eventually choking off animal life. It's that she wants to do something about it.


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Sustainable aspects of this year's Beach to Beacon race include:

  • Bins for composting banana peels and orange rinds
  • Compostable cups, plates and utensils
  • Portable toilets featuring nontoxic, earth-friendly chemicals and recycled paper
  • Paperless registration
  • Ride-sharing Web site

Samuelson is encouraging participants to bring old sneakers for Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe Program, which grinds up old athletic shoes and uses them in the surfaces of athletic facilities, such as the Magee Track at Whittier Field.

Read more about Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program and its part in Magee Track.

(L. to r.) President Barry Mills, Joan Benoit Samuelson '79 and Libby Barney '03, at the Magee Track rededication in October 2005.

"Running is a pure sport," Samuelson tells the Press Herald.

"There's nothing between a runner and terra firma. Although we leave a lot of footprints behind, they're positive footprints. They're not emitting carbon.

"That's what I'm interested in promoting now, is sustainability of health and wellness and sustainability of natural resources and the environment.

"It's because the two are inextricably linked."

Read the article.

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