Just Athletics Interviews, Episode 57, Joan Benoit Samuelson


It was a warm day. On August 5, 1984, Joan Benoit Samuelson took an early lead in the LA Olympic Marathon, with Grete Waitz, Ingrid Kristiansen and Rosa Mota following and running very tactial races. Joan was chased about 20 miles, and by the end, Joannie had just about 400 meters on 1983 World Champion Grete Waitz.

It was a gutty race. I remember watching it, on our new portable color TV, after a 20 mile run that morning. I was glued to the TV, hoping that Joan could keep her lead. I knew she was tough, as my buddy Gary Goettlemann had told me about her hitting 10 miles in Boston, on her way to the world record in about 51 minutes. Joannie was gutty, and her gamble paid off.

In fact, she made it look easy.

How tough is Joan Benoit Samuelson? Greg Meyer, the 1983 Boston champion, told me that Joannie was the toughest trainer he knew. He said that training with her day after day, one could face injury. I believe it.

joan_benoit_231701a-56aa1dfe3df78cf772ac7ab1.jpgJoan Benoit Samuelson takes gold at LA 1984 Olympic marathon, photo courtesy of USOPC

In about 1977, the late John Jerome, one of the finest writers in sports ever, noted, of Frank Shorter, " by putting 26 miles together at five minutes a mile, Frank Shorter invented running." That could and should be said of Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Joan Benoit Samuelson has been the reluctant queen of women's running. Joan has always been thoughtful with questions from media, new women runners and experienced women runners, Joan Benoit Samuelson changed the face of sports, and women's running.

Thanks, Joan Benoit Samuelson!

Thanks, #JustAthletics for doing this amazing podcast!

We are fortunate to have running royalty as this week's guest of The Just Athletics podcast. A true hero in Joan Benoit Samuelson. Joan, of course, is the 1984 Olympic Champion in the marathon, the first time the distance was ever contested for women at the Olympic Games. She was also a two-time winner of the Boston Marathon and a winner of the Chicago Marathon in 1985 in an American Record time of 2:21:21, which stood for 18 years. Certainly one of the greatest runners of all-time and an amazing talent, another remarkable aspect of Joan's runner career is her longevity and ability to continue to run fast. She has continued to run very fast into the 21st century, most notably running 2:49:08 at the 2008 Olympic Trials at the age of 50. Joan has also made it a big goal to give back in many ways to the sport. She founded the Beach to Beacon 10k road race in 1998, which has become one of the premier road races in the United States. She has authored two books, "Running Tide" and "Running for Women".

She continues to inspire generation after generation of runners, women and men alike. This is an amazing pod and Joan is certainly an amazing person on a lot of levels. Thanks so much Joan!!

Subscribe to the show on iTunes or Stitcher or Spotify or really where ever you get your podcasts to get future episodes and please follow us on Twitter @just_athletics and like us on the Facebook or our Instagram page.

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