Joan Benoit Samuelson '79

Joan Benoit Samuelson '79

The most recognizable athlete in Bowdoin's history, Joan Benoit Samuelson is one of the most decorated runners in the world. A two-time champion at the Boston Marathon (1979 and 1983), in 1984 she was presented with the Jesse Owens Award and in 1985 she earned the Sullivan Award as the top U.S. amateur athlete. She will forever be remembered for her dominating gold-medal performance in the inaugural women's marathon at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Upon her graduation from Bowdoin in 1979, the four-time All-American held numerous Bowdoin and New England indoor and outdoor records, including regional marks in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races and the U.S. women's record for the 10,000 meters. She still holds the American women's marathon record, a mark that has stood for seventeen years. While at Bowdoin, Joan also played on the field hockey team. A native of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Joan Benoit Samuelson graduated Bowdoin with a double major in history and environmental studies. She has been inducted into the International Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame, the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of America National Hall of Fame, the Maine Women¹s Hall of Fame, the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, and the International Women's Sports Foundation Hall of Fame.

In 1999, Sports Illustrated placed her at #20 on the Top 100 Women Athletes of the Twentieth Century. She resides in Freeport, Maine with her husband, Scott (Class of 1980), and their two children. Joan's father, André (Class of 1943), and brothers Peter (Class of 1976) and John (Class of 1981) are also Bowdoin alumni.