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Now, 61-year-old Joan Benoit-Samuelson is returning to the site of a past victory with a new goal.
Samuelson won the Chicago Marathon in 1985, in a then-American record of 2:21:21, still the fifth-fastest U.S. time on record. This year, race organizers said she hopes to break the world record for the 60–64 age group, 3:01:30, set by New Zealand’s Bernie Portenski in 2010.
If she succeeds in conquering a new category this year, the victory would likely feel extra sweet. Circumstances have kept her from Chicago’s streets on several of her recent attempts.
In 2015, she aimed to run within 30 minutes of her winning time 30 years prior, but she was forced to drop out the day before due to a stomach bug. Last year, she set a goal of running the first sub-3 ever by a woman older than 60, but a knee injury intervened.
Once again, she withdrew four days before the race. Joan was the first-ever women's Olympic Games marathon champion, winning the Gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Benoit Samuelson still holds the fastest times for an American woman at the Chicago Marathon and the Olympic Marathon. Her time at the Boston Marathon was the fastest time by an American woman at that race for 28 years. She was inducted into the Maine Women's Hall of Fame in 2000.(10/03/2018) ⚡AMP