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FALMOUTH, MA (August 18, 2016)—Joan Benoit Samuelson, the 1984 gold medalist in the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon, will be honored at this year’s New Balance Falmouth Road Race on the 40th anniversary of her first win here, organizers have announced.
The 44 th running of the race is this Sunday, August 21.
Samuelson, who in 1976 came to Falmouth as a 19-year- old Bowdoin student to run what she believes may have been her first road race, has won here six times (1976, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1985), more than any other man or woman in the open division. Four of her victories were course records.
To mark the anniversary of her first victory, Falmouth Road Race, Inc. will donate $1,976 to the Tri-Town Track and Field Project at Freeport (ME) High School and another $1,976 to the Morse Pond School Running Club in Falmouth if Samuelson—while attempting to win her 50-59 age group for the 10th consecutive year—betters her 1976 winning time of 43:08. “Joan Benoit Samuelson has been such a vital part of the fabric of this race that we’re honored celebrate her milestone anniversary,” said Scott Ghelfi, president of the Board of Directors. “That she even has a chance at running faster than her winning time 40 years ago shows what a competitor she still is, and we’re more than pleased to fan those competitive fires by putting a donation on the table if she breaks 43:08.”
In winning her age group here last year, Samuelson ran 44:31 on an unusually hot day. In 2014, in better conditions, she posted a time of 43:29 while crossing the finish line hand-in- hand with Meb Keflezighi and two other runners.
Also planning to run the race are two-time Olympic medalist Frank Shorter, who won gold in 1972 and silver 40 years ago this summer, and Bill Rodgers, a 1976 Olympian best known as a four-time winner of the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon.
Samuelson will speak at the Health & Fitness Expo at Falmouth High School on Saturday at 2 PM, where she will be joined on stage at 2:30 PM by Shorter and Rodgers. Admission to the expo is free. Olympian Alan Webb, who holds the American record (3:46.91) in the mile, will appear on a panel after a special screening of “Bannister: Everest on the Track,” a documentary on the historic race in which the 4-minute mile was broken in 1954. Also highlighting the Q&A will be Tom Ratcliffe, producer and director of the film, and 85-year- old George Dole, who ran in the race with Bannister. The screening begins at 3:30 PM in the Falmouth High School auditorium.
Immediately after the Bannister film and discussion, the audience will join fans outside at the James Kalperis Track for a Track Festival that gets underway at 4 PM with the SBLI Family Fun Run, followed by the Falmouth Youth Mile at 5:15 PM, the Tommy Cochary High School Mile, and the Aetna Falmouth Elite Mile, returning from a one-year hiatus and featuring 2012 Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano.
On Sunday, Dr. Irene Davis, director of the Spaulding National Running Center, will be the official starter for the Wheelchair Division at 8:40 AM, sponsored by Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital of Cape Cod. Official starter for the Elite Women’s start at 8:50 AM will be Samuelson, with two-time Olympian Ryan Hall, the fastest U.S. marathoner in history, doing the honors for the Elite Men’s and Open start at 9 AM.
Defending champions Stephen Sambu of Kenya and Diane Nukuri of Burundi will both return to defend their titles in a rematch of “The Countdown” last year, in which Sambu beat a clock that began counting down after Nukuri broke the tape by just two seconds to claim a $5,000 bonus. Nukuri arrives straight off setting a national record last week in the Olympic 10,000 meters. She will be joined in Falmouth by fellow 2016 Olympians Betsy Saina for Kenya and Leonard Korir for the USA.
Dick and Rick Hoyt, the father-son wheelchair duo, are expected to participate for the 37th consecutive year, their longest streak of any race, and race founder Tommy Leonard—who turned 83 years old last week—will again serve as Grand Marshal.
For more information, please visit our website at www.falmouthitf.wpengine.com; our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/falmouthroadrace; our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/falmouthrr and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/falmouthroadrace.
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About Falmouth Road Race
The New Balance Falmouth Road Race was established in 1973 and has become one of the premier running events of the summer season. Each year the race draws an international field of Olympians, elite and recreational runners out to enjoy the iconic 7-mile seaside course. The non-profit Falmouth Road Race organization is committed to promoting health and fitness through community programs and philanthropic giving.
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