Joan Benoit Samuelson Continues To Inspire

Joan Benoit Samuelson is a role model for runners everywhere. Photo: University of South Carolina

She won the first Olympic gold marathon medal in 1984.

From: Running USA

CLEVELAND — With the tremendous growth in female participation in running and the 40th anniversary of Title IX, it’s only fitting that running legends Joan Benoit Samuelson and Anne Audain will be on hand for the 35th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon this weekend.

“It’s a tremendous honor to have Joan and Anne join us this weekend,” said Jack Staph, Executive Director of the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. “In 2003, women made up 38 percent of our participants and now less than 10 years later that number is closer to 60 percent. Successful role models like Joan and Anne have paved the way for millions of new female runners.”

Widely regarded as the top American women’s distance runner of all time, Benoit Samuelson won the first Olympic gold medal in the women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. The Maine native was a two-time winner of the Boston Marathon (1979 and 1983) and also earned the 1985 Chicago Marathon title. Meanwhile, Audain is a seven-time winner of the Rite Aid Cleveland 10K, claiming her first title in 1982. The New Zealand native and Running USA board member finished 11th in the women’s 10,000 meters at the 1988 Olympics and has been honored as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Both are members of the Running USA Hall of Champions.

The pair is slated to speak multiple times at the Health & Fitness Expo presented by Prayers From Maria Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation, which is held Friday and Saturday (May 18-19) at the I-X Center located near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Benoit Samuelson will speak at 1:00pm both days, while Audain will talk Friday at 2:00pm and Saturday at 3:00pm. They will also give a joint talk Friday at 4:00pm.

Benoit Samuelson and Audain will serve as honorary starters for the Rite Aid Cleveland 5K presented by the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) Saturday morning at 8:00am at Cleveland Browns Stadium, in addition to appearing at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Red Nose Children’s Run held at the stadium at 11:00am.

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