Joan Benoit wins Boston Marathon - HISTORY
Year
1983
Month Day
April 18

Joan Benoit wins Boston Marathon

Joan Benoit wins her second Boston Marathon in the women’s division with a time of 2:22:43 on April 18, 1983. The following year, she went on to win the first-ever women’s marathon at the Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles and became the first person to win Boston as well as Olympic gold.

A native of Maine, Benoit turned to long-distance running in high school after a ski injury. In 1979, as a senior at Bowdoin College, Benoit won her first Boston Marathon with a time of 2:35:15. Four years later, on April 18, 1983, Benoit won her second Boston Marathon, with a record time of 2:22:43. Greg Meyer of Massachusetts was the men’s winner that year, with a time of 2:09:00. As of 2007, Meyer was the last American man to win the Boston Marathon, which has been dominated by Kenyans in recent decades.

The inaugural Boston Marathon was run on April 19, 1897, and was a men-only event until 1972, when women were officially allowed to compete. The first female winner, Nina Kuscsik, finished with a time of 3:10:26 and was one of eight women who ran the race that year.

The first modern Olympic marathon was run at the 1896 Games in Athens. Eighty-eight years later, the first-ever women’s Olympic Marathon was run at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Less than three weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, Benoit won her Olympic trials. On August 5, 1984, she took home the gold medal with a time of 2:24:52, defeating Grete Waitz of Norway and Rosa Mota of Portugal.

Following the Olympics, Benoit returned to Maine, got married (and changed her name to Joan Benoit Samuelson) and had a family. In October 1985, she won the Chicago Marathon with a time of 2:21:21, setting a record that held for 21 years for the fastest U.S. female marathon time. After retiring from professional racing, she became a motivational speaker, author and commentator. In 2006, Benoit Samuelson helped pace champion cyclist Lance Armstrong in his first New York City Marathon. 

Tags
terms:
Sports

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Mt. Everest sees its single deadliest day

On April 18, 2014, 16 Nepali mountaineering guides, most of them ethnic Sherpas, are killed by an avalanche on Mt. Everest, the Earth’s highest mountain. It was the single deadliest accident in the history of the Himalayan peak, which rises more than 29,000 feet above sea level ...read more

Dick Clark, host of “American Bandstand” and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” dies

On April 18, 2012, Dick Clark, the TV personality and producer best known for hosting “American Bandstand,” an influential music-and-dance show that aired nationally from 1957 to 1989 and helped bring rock `n’ roll into the mainstream in the late 1950s, dies of a heart attack at ...read more

Suicide bomber destroys U.S. embassy in Beirut

The U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, is almost completely destroyed by a car-bomb explosion that kills 63 people, including the suicide bomber and 17 Americans. The terrorist attack was carried out in protest of the U.S. military presence in Lebanon. In 1975, a bloody civil war ...read more

Martin Luther defiant at Diet of Worms

Martin Luther, the chief catalyst of Protestantism, defies the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V by refusing to recant his writings. He had been called to Worms, Germany, to appear before the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire and answer charges of heresy. Martin Luther was a ...read more

War correspondent Ernie Pyle killed

During World War II, journalist Ernie Pyle, America’s most popular war correspondent, is killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on the island of Ie Shima in the Pacific. Pyle, born in Dana, Indiana, first began writing a column for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain in 1935. ...read more

Doolittle leads air raid on Tokyo

On April 18, 1942, 16 American B-25 bombers, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet 650 miles east of Japan and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, attack the Japanese mainland. The now-famous Tokyo Raid did little real damage to Japan (wartime Premier ...read more

The Great San Francisco Earthquake topples buildings, killing hundreds

On April 18, 1906, at 5:13 a.m., an earthquake estimated at close to 8.0 on the Richter scale strikes San Francisco, California, killing an estimated 3,000 people as it topples numerous buildings. The quake was caused by a slip of the San Andreas Fault over a segment about 275 ...read more

Federal court decides to release poet Ezra Pound from hospital for criminally insane

A federal court rules that Ezra Pound should no longer be held at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the criminally insane in Washington, D.C. Pound has been held for 13 years, following his arrest in Italy during World War II on charges of treason. Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho, and ...read more

Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco marry

American actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco in a spectacular ceremony on April 18, 1956. Kelly, the daughter of a former model and a wealthy industrialist, began acting as a child. After high school, she attended the American Academy for Dramatic Arts in New ...read more

Chinese students protest against government

Thousands of Chinese students continue to take to the streets in Beijing to protest government policies and issue a call for greater democracy in the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC). The protests grew until the Chinese government ruthlessly suppressed them in June ...read more

Revere and Dawes warn of British attack

On April 18, 1775, British troops march out of Boston on a mission to confiscate the American arsenal at Concord and to capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington. As the British departed, Boston Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes ...read more