Joan Benoit Samuelson Inspires Students

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published May. 6, 2011
  • Updated May. 6, 2011 at 1:50 PM UTC
Joan Benoit Samuelson talked with students on Thursday. Photo:

Joan Benoit Samuelson talked with students on Thursday. Photo: Billings Gazette

“Set your own goals,” she says.

In 1984, she was winning a gold medal. Nowadays, she’s sharing her life’s story with school children. On Thursday, 54-year-old Joan Benoit Samuelson was in Billings, Montana speaking to third and fourth graders about the importance of goal setting.

Samuelson was the first woman in the history of the Olympics to win gold in the marathon.

Fourth-grade student Alyssa West was impressed with the talk. “It was inspiring. It was really good,” she said.

Samuelson stressed the importance of not worrying about what others think when deciding on a goal. “We all have to run our own races,” she told the students. “We can’t run anyone else’s race.”

Using an anecdote from the Los Angeles Olympic Marathon to prove her point, Samuelson talked about how, during the race, she decided not to join the pack to stop for water at an aid station, because she didn’t like the pace that was being set. So she set her own pace.

“Pay attention to what’s important to you…There is no finish line,” she said.

For More: Billings Gazette

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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