Woman to run in marathon 25 years after record

October 8, 2010 7:52:43 PM PDT
About 45,000 runners will take part in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday. One of them will be Joan Benoit Samuelson who made a big splash with first Chicago marathon appearance 25 years ago.

Her marathon in 1985 in Chicago still ranks as the fastest American woman's performance ever on U.S. soil. Samuelson is a former world record holder, Olympic gold medalist and an icon in the sport.

Twenty five years after her fastest race, she is back in Chicago still running. In fact, she's running well enough that at age 53 she is trying to run an Olympic trials qualifying time.

"I'm just gonna go out and give it my best shot. I'm going to try to enjoy the anniversary run," said Samuelson.

She was showered with applause as she spoke to runners at a pre-race pep rally Thursday night at Niketown.

Samuelson began running at a time when the longest race doctors suggested for women was a half mile. When the Olympics opened the marathon to women in 1984 she won the gold.

"I'm just exciting to be on the same start line as her. In fact, she's going for the qualifying time as well so I'm excited to just try to stick on her butt and see where I can go with it," said Christina Overbeck, Chicago marathon runner

"I can't even imagine doing that for 25 years, going at it as competitively and intensely as she has for that long of a time. I think it's incredible," said Heather Prekop, Chicago marathon runner.

Samuelson and Great Britain's Steve Jones are both running the race this year. Jones set the world record in Chicago in 19-84. But it's Samuelson who has defied Father Time to continue running world class times into her 50s.

"Her performance in '85 and Steve's performance in '84 put the Bank of America marathon the map," said Carey Pinkowski, marathon director.

"It's all about passion, and it's all about love of sport and it's all about having the ability and having had the opportunity throughout my career to do what I am still doing and love it today," said Samuelson.

Benoit Samuelson says the date of the marathon, 10-10-10, combined with her time 25 years ago, 2-21-21, had a nice ring to it. That's what convinced her to come back this year. And she hopes to run yet one more great time in Chicago.


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