I remember it like it were yesterday. We were watching the 1984 Olympic marathon on our new color TV. Joan Samuelson took the lead just after three miles on the LA Marathon course. She was being followed, cautiously, by Grete Waitz, Ingrid Kristiansen and Rosa Mota. Surely the adventurous American, who had just had arthroscopic surgery less than two weeks before the Olympic marathon Trials, had used up all of her good luck.
TBT… A look back at the @tdbeach2beacon, all the way back to the event that set the race in motion – Joanie’s inspirational and unforgettable Gold Medal performance in the very first Olympic women’s marathon in LA in 1984. She would later use her reputation and fame, together with a desire to give back to her home state, to create a world-class road race in Maine…. #tdb2b10k #mainesummer #capeelizabeth #10k #joanbenoitsamuelson
But Joan Benoit Samuelson persisted. Her diminutive size does not translate that tough Mainer inside. Joan was out to win this race, and like Frank Shorter in 1972, who took off at nine miles, Joan Samuelson, then Joan Benoit, won from the front.
Grete Waitz and Ingrid Kristiansen, along with Rosa Mota went after Joan, but it was, alas, too late.
I have known Joan Benoit Samuelson for nearly 33 years, and I am still emotionally touched by her amazing run in Los Angeles. It was true drama, as it should be, in the first Olympic marathon for women.
And now, drum roll, here are the five reasons to be at the Joan Samuelson Night of Pre Classic, on May 26!
1. A night of women’s athletics, and a great way to introduce your kids to big time track! Professional sports are very pricey. But this night of world class track is free, and your kids get to enjoy some of the finest athletes in the world. For your daughters, it is a chance to see how amazing women’s track and field truly is.
2. The 5,000 meters is a real world record attempt. Look, Genzebe Dibaba has world records at 1,500 meters, 2000 meters, two miles and 3000 meters indoors. She also has the 1,500 meters outdoors. Now, she wants to break the world record for 5,000 meters. They have pace setters for 1000 meters and 2000 meters, and then, Genzebe Dibaba will be on her own. Molly Huddle, who holds the 10,000m AR and used to hold the 5,000m AR, is in this race. Do not be surprised if she goes for it as well. Genzebe Dibaba has run 14:15.41, so she needs four seconds to break the record.
3. The women’s steeplechase could be a very fast run as well. Ruth Jebet, Olympic champion, and WR holder, has run 8:52.78 (last year) and so far in 2017, she has run 9:01.99. Celliphene Chespol, 9:05.70, is the U 20 World record holder in the event, and she is the next new star in the event. Beatrice Chepkoech beat WR holder Ruth Jebet in Doha. And watch AR holder, Emma Coburn, who looks ready to challenge her AR of 9:07.83, set last summer.
4.Want to see some serious long jumpers? Watch! Five athletes in this field have gone 7 meters (22 feet, 11.591 inches) or better. Tianna Bartoletto, Olympic champion, held off six time world champion Brittney Reese in Rio! How far will these women long jump? It is crazy to watch these two (add Shara Proctor, Blessing Okagbare, Darya Klishina and Lorraine Ugen, and you have an exciting field!
5. The womens’ javelin will be a crusher! Two time Olympian, one time World Champ Barbora Spotakova is in shape, and the field she takes on is pretty tough. But, watch Spotokova let one go, say 68 meters, and you will hear some “oohing and ahhing.” Inspire your daughters to throw!