Joan Benoit Samuelson easily meets her goal in Marathon

Joan Benoit Samuelson, first women's Olympics marathon winner, walks from the finish line after finishing the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
winslow townson/AP
Joan Benoit Samuelson, 61, reflects on her accomplishment at the finish line.

She rocked a Bowdoin College singlet. There was Joan Benoit Samuelson again, crossing the Boston Marathon finish line.

Forty years after blazing through the field to win in an American-record 2:35:15, Samuelson set a goal to finish within 40 minutes of that time. The 61-year-old Maine native achieved her goal, finishing in 3:04:00, with 10 minutes to spare.

“I bettered that mark by a lot,” she said. “You always want to run faster, but I can’t complain. I’m delighted to achieve that goal and delighted to be running here 40 years later.”


She said she started a bit too fast, and had to tell herself to be patient. The message was the same from Desiree Linden (fifth place) to Jordan Hasay (first among American women, third overall). Elite runners think the same way, and Samuelson is proud to have helped paved the way for today’s strong American runners.

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“I think they’re very strong,” Samuelson said. “I’m delighted that Jordan and Des had such great races.”

The winner of the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, Samuelson started her collegiate career at Bowdoin before transferring to North Carolina State, where she became an All-American. She then returned to Bowdoin to complete her degree.

Samuelson trains by cross-country skiing. For her, it is a perfect complement to running, not only helpful for her limbs, but also a social outlet.

“I had more kilometers on these legs this winter than I do miles, meaning that I’ve done more cross-country skiing than actual running to save the pounding on the roads,” Samuelson said. “There’s some more mountains I’d like to summit, and I’d like to be able to do those things with our family and friends.”


In 1979, Samuelson wore a Red Sox cap when she ran Boston. Forty years later, it was her Bowdoin singlet. She’s a proud New Englander.

And when she gets the chance to run, especially in her native region, she is game.

“The crowds were very supportive — of the singlet initially, then of me,” Samuelson said. “It was unbelievable.”

Related: Results from the 2019 Boston Marathon