Joan Benoit Samuelson & Grete Waitz, photo by PhotoRun.net
I have a picture somewhere of Joan Benoit, as she was known then, with her Bowdoin baseball cap on backwards, running Boston Marathon. One of my training buddies ran with Joanie for much of 1979 Boston, and spoke of her, then, as now, with reverence.
Greg Meyer, the 1983 Boston Champ (and Chicago for that matter), has told me how he could not train with her day after day, because Joan Benoit Samuelson trained so hard. The Olympic Trials marathon, for those in the know in 1984, was probably tougher for Joan than the Olympic marathon.
But, then there was Los Angeles. When Joan Benoit Samuelson took the lead early on, against the greatest women's marathon field ever assembled, few thought she would lead the whole way, well, perhaps, besides her coach, Bob Sevene.
The picture above is one of my most treasured. Joan and Grete, two of my heroes and the two women who have shaped our sport for decades to come. Spend some time looking at it. Both will always be regarded as marathon royalty.
I have been fortunate to see Joan over the past four decades of running. I remember her speaking a few years ago at the Nike Half, which brought me to near tears. Her honesty, but also her love of the sport was quite clear.
Dave Hunter is completely correct here, Joan Benoit Samuelson is the marathon's queen.