We’ve come a long way, baby!
It’s hard to imagine twenty eight years ago was the first time the Olympics actually added the Woman’s Marathon distance as on official Olympic event! It was first held in Los Angeles! The 80’s? Most people think of the crazy music, bad fashion and funky hair styles… big hair! Most of my co-workers were born in the 80’s and are under the impression that the women’s movement was in the 60’s with the civil rights movement and while it may have started then, it took many years for it to come full circle.
Joan Benoit Samuelson was the winner of the inaugural event!
Joan was 26 years old and has a pretty amazing story that not a lot of people know about. She had knee surgery 17 days before competing in the trials to make the Olympic team and then impressed the world with her amazing effort by winning at the Olympics! When it comes to passion, nobody exhibits passion the way Joan continues to live her life as a dedicated runner. She tries retiring from the sport in 2008 but continues to run in many marathons for many reasons. If it’s not her daughter who wants to run, it’s a friend who inspires her to join an event! It’s pretty amazing.
Here’s a list of her accomplishments:
Notable: First women’s Olympic marathon gold medalist, ran 2:24:52 in 1984 in Los Angeles, just 17 days after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery… Burst onto the scene when as a senior at Bowdoin College she won the Boston Marathon in 2:35:15 in 1979, setting an American record… Set a world record in 1983 in her second Boston Marathon, 2:22.43... Her 1985 Chicago time of 2:21:21 stood as an American record for 18 years... Won both the Jesse Owens and the Sullivan awards as the outstanding U. S. amateur athlete in 1985.
In the same Marathon, some people remember Joan Benoit Samuelson and some remember Gabriela Andersen-Schiess!
She is the Swiss woman who struggled at the end of the Marathon and as a stadium filled with enthusiastic fans cried and begged her to stop, she continued until she finished. I recommend for you to google her and read her amazing story. She is a ski instructor in Idaho these days and she would be a great interview!
As most FR clubs continue to struggle to keep women active with the organization, I have no answers to what can be done. Some runners are competitive and some are social. In my opinion the majority of members of our FR organization are more social than competitive. As our organization evolves and changes are made, there are some things that should never change. Passion, Commitment and Loyalty. Both Joan Benoit Samuelson and Gabriela Andersen-Schiess showed the same passion that the members of our organization exhibit. I will quote an old president of SFFR and say “It’s just a running club.” However, for some it’s more than a running club - it’s a family! It is sometimes dysfunctional, but, in the end, it all works out.
Please look up the amazing two women I have mentioned in the article. They are amazing. Thanks!
International Front Runners
Western Region US Representative