Joan Benoit Samuelson – Race Founder

Joan Benoit Samuelson, Maine’s most recognizable athlete who continues to serve as an inspiration for women runners around the world, founded the TD Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race, then known as the Peoples Beach to Beacon, in 1998 to benefit children’s charities in Maine. With the help of the bank, Joan’s efforts quickly elevated the annual race to world-class status. Today, the TD Beach to Beacon 10K is a ‘must’ event on the calendars of elite runners around the globe as well as recreational runners throughout New England. Joan ran the same ocean-side roads while growing up in Cape Elizabeth, just setting out on her path to history. While a senior at Bowdoin College, Benoit entered the 1979 Boston Marathon as a virtual unknown and won, setting a record for American women. Following surgery on her Achilles tendons, she again won the Boston Marathon in 1983. In Los Angeles in 1984, the eyes of the world were watching Joan when she won the first ever women’s Olympic Marathon. She has remained a dominant figure and a role model in the running world and women’s athletics ever since. Below is more specific information about Joan’s athletic achievements and civic involvement.

Joanie headshot


1972-75 All American Honors at Cape Elizabeth (Maine) H.S.
1975 Wins the regional Junior Olympic mile championship in 5:03.8
1976 Wins the Portland Boys Club 5-mile race
1976 Wins prestigious, 7.1-mile Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod
1978 Sets world record in Boston’s Bonne Belle 10K race (33:16)
1979 Boston Marathon winner, World Best, (2:35:15)
1983 Boston Marathon winner, New World Best, (2:22:43)
1984 Wins the first U.S. women’s Olympic Marathon trials
1984 Olympic Gold Medalist in Los Angeles — First Women’s Olympic Marathon, (2:24:32)
1984 Philadelphia Half Marathon winner
1984 Jesse Owens Award recipient
1984 Inductee, Maine Sports Hall of Fame
1985 Chicago Marathon winner, time stood for 18 years as an American record (2:21:21)
1985 Receives Sullivan Award as country’s Top Amateur Athlete
1987 Honorary Degree Recipient, Williams College
1988 Tufts Jumbo Award recipient
1990 Kiputh Award, Yale University
1990 Honorary Degree recipient, Colby-Sawyer College
1990 Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary Club International
1992 Wins the Columbus (Ohio) Marathon
1993 Sara Orne Jewett Award, Maine Women’s Fund
1994 New England Women’s Leadership Award recipient
1994 First woman inducted into the National Alumni Hall of Fame of the Boys and Girls Club of America
1995 Honorary Degree recipient, Mount Ida College
1996 Finishes 13th in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials
1997 Creates the former Peoples Beach to Beacon 10K Road Race in Cape Elizabeth, Maine
1998 Wins the USA Track and Field Master’s national championship for women 40-and-over in the 5K
1998 Inductee, National Distance Running Hall of Fame
1998 Presides over the first Peoples Beach to Beacon 10K (now the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon), a road race branded one of the world’s best by runners
1998 Road Runner’s Club of America, Women’s Master Runner of the Year
1998 Qualifies for U.S. 2000 Olympic Marathon trials at New York Marathon
1999 Honorary Degree recipient, Thomas College
1999 Inductee, International Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame
1999 Inductee, International Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame
1999 Presides over the second TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K. With a field of 4,000, including many of the world’s best distance runners, it eclipses the first
2000 Finishes 9th in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials
2000 Presides over the third TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K
2001 Presides over the fourth TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K
2001 Qualifies for U.S. 2004 Olympic Marathon trials at New York Marathon
2002 For the first time, runs in the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K
2002 Sets national 45-49 age group record – 2:42.28 – at Chicago Marathon
2004 Injury prevents entry into U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in St. Louis, plans run in 2008 trials.
2005 Receives Selma Black Award from Northeastern University.
2005 Qualifies for U.S. 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials at Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota.
2006 Receives honorary degree from the University of New England
2007 US Track and Field Outstanding Athlete of the Year award for 50-54 age group
2007 For the second time, runs the TD Banknorth Beach to Beacon 10K, this time in a leisurely pace alongside friend Jacqueline Gareau, the 1980 Boston Marathon champ. They finish in 42 minutes,
2008 Voted into the Olympic Hall of Fame; set a record in her age group in the 2008 Olympic trials
2008 Set U.S. Masters 50+ 5K Record – 17:24 in the USA 5K in Providence, Rhode Island on Sept. 21, 2008.
2009 Set U.S. Masters 50+ Indoor 3000m Record – 10:22.68 in Landover, Maryland on March 20, 2009
2009 RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Female Master Runner of the Year
2011 115th Boston Marathon, 2:51.29; also won her age group 50-54
2013 117th Boston Marathon, 2:50.37 (first in age group, 47th overall)- achieves goal of finishing within 30 minutes of world record 2:22.43 set 30 years earlier at 1983 Boston Marathon


Committees and Boards:
1985-Present Advisory Board, Gulf of Maine Aquarium
1986-1993 Samantha Smith Center
1985-Present Friends of Casco Bay
1990-1991 Bowdoin College Fund Director – Chair
1990-1997 Honorary Board, Big Sisters Association of Boston
1991-1995 Foundation for the Advancement of Education
1994-1997 Freeport Recreation Committee
1995 Nominating Committee, YWCA of Portland, Maine
1995-Present Advisory Board, Maine’s Women Fund
1995-1996 Co-Chair, Casco Bay Area YMCA Capital Campaign
1995-Present Bowdoin College Board of Trustees
1995-Present Governor’s Council for Physical Education and Sports
1997-Present Governor’s Executive Council, Communities for Children
1997-Present Founder and Chair, TD Beach to Beacon 10K
1999-Present National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Board of Directors
2002 Honorary member American Running Association Gala
2002 Girl Scouts of Kennebec Council Woman of Distinction Award
2003-Present Named Co-Chair of Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports, Health & Wellness

Public service, past & Present

Natural Resources Council of Maine; Maine Lung Association; Alzheimer’s Foundation; M.S. Society; Special Olympics; Freeport Public Schools; Massachusetts Association for the Blind; New England Women’s Leadership Award Nominating Committee; Maine Honorary Chair, March of Dimes Walk America; Maine Amateur Athletic Foundation, Board of Directors; Dana Farber Cancer Research Institute


Joanie Benoit Samuelson resides in Freeport, Maine with her husband, Scott Samuelson. They have two children, Abby and Anders.


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