NEW YORK (05-Aug) -- It was 25 years ago today that Joan Benoit Samuelson won the first ever Olympic Marathon for women. Memories of that great victory in Los Angeles have prompted Samuelson, 52, to enter the 40th edition of the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 1.
"Realizing that the 25th anniversary of my Olympic run coincides with the 40th edition of the ING New York City Marathon stirred my desire to run," said Samuelson who lives in Freeport, Me.
By her own reckoning, Samuelson still runs 50 to 60 miles per week. She last competed in a marathon in Boston in April, 2008, when she set an American 50-and-over record of 2:49:08 at the USA Olympic Marathon Trials. She had said after that race that she was unlikely to run another competitive marathon, but the 40th running of the world's most famous marathon in New York simply proved too tempting a competition to pass up.
"This will be more than a jog down memory lane," Samuelson insisted. "This is the incentive I needed to get out there one more time."
This will be Samuelson's fifth run in New York. She last ran the five borough race in 2001, clocking 2 hours, 42 minutes, 56 seconds, which placed her second in the masters (40+) division that year. Samuelson also competed in 1988 (third, 2:32:40), 1991 (sixth, 2:33:48), and 1998 (2:41:06, masters champion) editions of the race. A two-time Boston Marathon winner and a former marathon world-record holder, Samuelson still loves to compete; she plans to run the CIGNA Falmouth Road Race this weekend.
Not surprisingly, New York organizers are thrilled to be hosting Samuelson. "Joanie was the all-American girl winning at home and it was a moment that is indelibly etched in our memories," said New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg who directs the ING New York City Marathon. "Now, 25 years later, Joanie is still running and creating new memories for all of us. Her participation in the 40th running of the ING New York City Marathon adds a golden glow to the festivities planned."
Always motivated to set new records, Samuelson has set her sights on the ING New York City Marathon's 50+ division record of 2:53:53 by S. Rae Baymiller in 1993.
The ING New York City Marathon is the world's largest marathon and will be hosting the USA Men's Marathon Championship for the first time since 2001. Last year's race had 38,832 starters and 38,096 finishers.