Two-time race champion and 1984 Olympic Marathon gold medalist eyes 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier; four-time champion Bill Rodgers also to serve as Grand Marshal of 115th running
BOSTON - (April 11, 2011) - The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has announced that Olympic gold medalist and two-time Boston Marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson will compete in the 115th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18. The 53-year-old Maine native will run the Boston Marathon for the first time since 1993. Benoit Samuelson will start among the Elite Women at 9:32am ET that will include approximately 67 of the world's top female marathoners.
Benoit Samuelson won the 1979 Boston Marathon in a U.S. best of 2 hours, 35 minutes, 15 seconds, and she established a world best at the 1983 Boston Marathon in 2:22:43. Her performance from 1983 remains the fourth fastest time in Boston Marathon history.
"Joan is a running legend and perhaps the greatest marathoner the United States has ever produced," said B.A.A. Executive Director Tom Grilk. "Any time she races, she adds to her legacy. We are pleased that spectators along the course, those watching on television and those following online will have an additional element of attraction."
Benoit Samuelson has stated that she may pursue at the Boston Marathon the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time of 2:46:00.
"Boston is special race for me," said Benoit Samuelson. "The crowds know and appreciate the athletes competing and their accomplishments, and they never disappoint with their encouragement and enthusiasm. I look forward to experiencing their energy and excitement on Patriots' Day."
When she won in 1979, she was 21-year-old student Joan Benoit from Bowdoin College. She went on to win the inaugural gold medal in the women's Olympic Marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Over time and following her Olympic victory, she became an icon of the sport and one of its most recognizable names.
Benoit Samuelson is one of only four Boston Marathon champions to have also won gold in the Olympic Marathon. Gelindo Bordin of Italy, Rosa Mota of Portugal and Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia are the others.
Also, the B.A.A. announced that four-time champion Bill Rodgers - another marathon legend - will serve as the Grand Marshal of the 2011 Boston Marathon. He will ride in a Nissan pace car ahead of the lead runners, and the car will be identified with his name and accomplishment. The B.A.A. has reserved the Grand Marshal role as a position of recognition and honor. Spectators along the course gather early along the 26.2 mile route to greet the Ggrand Marshal as the vehicle makes its way from Hopkinton to Boston, heralding that thousands of running will soon be coming. Rodgers won the Boston Marathon in 1975 and in three consecutive years from 1978 through 1980. The 1976 Olympic marathoner last ran the Boston Marathon in 2009, completing the course in 4:06:49 at age 61.
Benoit Samuelson and Rodgers are members of the John Hancock Elite Athlete Program, part of John Hancock's principal sponsorship of the Boston Marathon which is now in its 26th year.
In addition, Boston champions Ron Hill of Great Britain (1970), Alvaro Mejia of Colombia (1971), Rob de Castella of Australia (1986) and Jean Driscoll of the USA (1990-96, 2000) are among others who will be honored and feted at the annual Champions' Breakfast on Saturday, April 16 and throughout the weekend.
For more race information including updates, go to: BostonMarathon.org