Carey Pinkowski and Joan Benoit Samuelson, photo by David Monti, RRW, used with permission.
Way back in 1977, in the predecessor of Outside magazine, Mariah, there existed a wonderfully thoughtful writer named John Jerome. He wrote a piece on Frank Shorter, who, after having won two Olympic medals, a gold and a silver, had brought much focus on the marathon distance in the U.S. Men and women were putting on their running shoes, buying copies of Runners World (went from 50,000 subscribers to 400,0000), and running one of the big city marathons (New York, Chicago, LA then).
In that article on Frank Shorter, the late John Jerome wrote one of the most prophetic lines about a marathoner ever: " In putting 26 miles together at five minutes per mile, Frank Shorter invented running." I always thought that Jerome had encapsulated the first running boom in that one sentance. I was, and am, so in awe of that line.
Now, move, dear readers, to the present. Joan Benoit Samuelson has been not only a beacon of running, but a beacon of promoting opportunities for women in sport and championing her sponsor, Nike, and its realization of the opportunities in athletics with women.
Joan Benoit Samuelson is celebrating her 30th anniversary of her epic victory in Chicago over Ingrid Kristiansen, in an American record that lasted 18 years. Joan Samuelson was not about fun running, nor was this about finishing. Joan Samuelson, on the shoulders of runners such as Nina Kusick, Jacqueline Hansen, Christi Vahlensheck and Lorraine Molller, built up the focus around women's marathoning. Samuelson raced hard, no quarter given, no quarter asked.
Joan Benoit stole the Los Angeles Olympic marathon, and while naysayers commented on TV, Joan won the first Olympic title. Her battle in 1985 against Kristiensen was a gut wrenching battle where two fine athletes red lined the pace for 21 plus miles before the Mainer stubborness of Joan Benoit Samuelson overcame the stoic Norgwegian Kristiansen.
Watching Joan now, I still see that stubbornness. I wonder how Scott, her husband, and a keen observer of this sport, has been able to help her focus her drive and energy.
Here is the piece by David Monti, written on Thursday for Race Results Weekly. We use this piece with permission.