Samuelson sets unofficial record in 20th Beach to Beacon
Aug. 05, 2017
CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine (AP) — Olympic marathon gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson joined nearly 6,500 runners Saturday in the road race that she created along the coastal roads where she trained in her native Maine.
Running alongside Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, Samuelson finished the 20th Beach to Beacon 10-kilometer race in 39 minutes, 19 seconds, fast enough for a U.S. record in her division.
Stephen Kosgei Kibet, of Kenya, bested 2016 winner Ben True by less than a second to win the 6.2-mile race in 27 minutes, 54 seconds. Mary Keitany, also of Kenya, won the women's division for the second consecutive year, setting a course record of 30:41.
At 60, Samuelson didn't join the first wave of elite runners. Instead, she and Kastor ran with a later group.
After completing the race, Samuelson smiled when she noticed that race organizers had unfurled a banner with her image from the Portland Head Light, the famous lighthouse. "Whenever you can celebrate in your hometown, that takes the cake," she said before the race.
The Maine native won the Boston Marathon in 1979 and went on to win it again in 1983. She took gold in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, the first time the marathon event was open to women.
"Joanie," as she's known in New England, remains a competitive runner, winning the master's title with a record-breaking finish in the Quad-City Bix in Iowa the previous weekend. She's training with an eye toward winning her division in the Chicago Marathon.
On Saturday, her performance beat the U.S. record of 39:24 among women between 60 and 64 on the USA Track and Field website. The winning time still needs to be certified as a new record, race officials said.
Samuelson created the race that starts at Crescent Beach State Park and ends at Fort Williams, home to the lighthouse built in 1787, following her old training route growing up in Cape Elizabeth.
She owes her storied running career to a broken leg that ended her hopes of becoming an Olympic downhill skier. She still enjoys downhill and cross-country skiing, just not competitively.
"I think that helped me to maintain the balance that I struggled so hard to maintain when it comes to mind, body and spirt. Balance is important," she said.
Race sponsor TD Banknorth is donating $30,000 to charity. The beneficiary is Let's Go!, a program of The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center that aims to boost physical activity and healthy eating habits for kids.
This story has been corrected to show that Samuelson's official time was 39 minutes, 19 seconds, not 39:11.