When Joan Benoit hit the Los Angeles coliseum, in August 1984, the crowd of 70,000 erupted in a huge roar. In the first Olympic marathon, in a race that should have been won by Grete Waitz, then seven time NYC champion and World Champion, or Ingrid Kristiansen, or even Portugals’ Rosa Mota!
How could this young Mainer, who seemed to get injured at the most opportune times, the last one about twelve weeks before the Olympics, take the lead on the LA Freeway and not loose it? In fact, Joan had played chicken with the world’s best marathoners, and won!
When one sees Joan Benoit Samuelson now, many see this thoughtful, quiet Zen master. When one watches her run, consider for a moment that there were times in her career that most elite guys would not train with her-Joan was a training animal!
In the release on her win at the Oklahoma City half marathon, Joan was called an icon-that she is. But, Joan Benoit Samuelson is much more than that–she shows how to live life running, no matter what how crazy one’s life is.
I will finish with one of my favorite pictures of Joan, from last year’s Boston, with her two starter pistol’s drawn, to get the Boston Marathon going. Joan let Victor Sailer, a photographer she has known for over two decades, take this picture of her for posterity. Two starter’s pistols or not, Joan Benoit Samuelson wants that US Master’s Record of 1:19:40 for the half marathon, and I would not bet against her…..
Joan Benoit Samuelson dominates and wins the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon
OKLAHOMA CITY – Olympic gold medalist and running icon Joan Benoit Samuelson battled high winds, led wire to wire and was never challenged as she cruised to victory in 1:21:57 in the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon Sunday. She has her sites set on breaking the current US Masterâ€™s Record of 1:19:40 here during next yearâ€™s 10th Anniversary Oklahoma City Run to Remember.
â€œI am so happy to win here and redeem myself from my last visit here to Oklahoma City in 2007. When I competed here two years ago, I had a severe plantar fasciitis problem that day, which I worsened by staying on the course and finishing the race.â€ Samuelson continues, â€œI never DNFâ€™ed (did not finish) a race in my career, and I wasnâ€™t going to quit in OKC back then because of the cause for running the race. So, the victory today was nice for me personally, but more so, I am hopefully furthering the eventâ€™s inspiring message of resilience and hope. The 2010 half-marathon with hopefully have a better weather day for breaking the US record.â€
OKC Memorial Marathon Executive Director Chet Collier states, â€œHaving Joanie come in and win here is such a wonderful thing for our event, she has been driving the sport of womenâ€™s running forever and continues to set the standard for what our sport should be.â€ Collier continues, â€œWe hope sheâ€™ll come back next year and defend her title.â€
Rookie marathoners Jordan Kinley and Catherine Oâ€™Dell won the marathon Sunday, posting times of 2:27:19 and 3:10:16 respectively. Defending menâ€™s half marathon champion Bernard Manirakiza won easily in 1:11:44.
The 9th running of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was a complete sellout with the total registrant field size of 19,300. The 10th Anniversary of The Run to Remember is set for April 25th, 2010. The event weekend includes marathon, half marathon and marathon relay for runners. The event also includes a Kidâ€™s Marathon and an ever-growing 5K Memorial Walk. To learn more about the events, training or volunteering, please contact the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon at 405-525-4242 or at www.okcmarathon.com. And please visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial website at www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org.