Samuelson sets 50-plus record at NYC Marathon

Posted Nov. 02, 2009, at 4:31 a.m.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, 52, crosses the finish line at the New York City Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009, in New York.  Samuelson, winner of the first women's marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, set a record for her age group (50-54) and missed by one second tying her American marathon record in the age group, which she set at the 2008 Olympic trials in Boston.  She finished 17th overall in the women's race Sunday. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Joan Benoit Samuelson, 52, crosses the finish line at the New York City Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009, in New York. Samuelson, winner of the first women's marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, set a record for her age group (50-54) and missed by one second tying her American marathon record in the age group, which she set at the 2008 Olympic trials in Boston. She finished 17th overall in the women's race Sunday. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK — Joan Benoit Samuelson wore her trademark white cap and ran with her familiar shuffle to set another record in the New York City Marathon.

The 52-year-old Samuelson finished in 2 hours, 49 minutes, 9 seconds along the five-borough route Sunday. She reached her goal of breaking the NYC Marathon 50-plus division record of 2:53:53 set by S. Rae Baymiller in 1993.

“I’m delighted to be back,” said Samuelson, who finished 17th overall in the women’s race in her fifth NYC Marathon.

Samuelson ran to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her gold medal in the first women’s Olympic marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of her first marathon.

Wearing a yellow singlet with “Joan” on the front, she started with the regular entrants, not the elite women. Samuelson’s energy seemed to wane as she entered Central Park near the end of the 26.2-mile course, but she was rejuvenated by the cheers of the crowds.

“They buoyed me, especially when I was really struggling in the Park,” she said. “In Harlem, and First Avenue, they helped me throughout the race.”

She also thought of Lance Armstrong, whom she ran with for part of the 2007 NYC Marathon.

“He really wanted to break three hours, and deep down, I really wanted to break 2:50 (today),” she said. “I pushed and prodded him toward the end, and I need that same motivation.”

Samuelson, from Freeport, Maine, finished one second off her American record of 2:49:08. She set that in the 50-54 age group at last year’s U.S. Olympics trials in Boston.

The two-time Boson Marathon winner, an advocate for environmental and health issues, calls herself a “human barometer” after logging 140,000 miles in her career.

“I see the changes in the environment, whether it be extreme weather conditions or erosion on the roadsides,” she said.

The NYC Marathon used recyclable cups along the route, and the cardboard and plastic from the fluid stations will be recycled.

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RUN FOR A CAUSE: Matthew Reeve wore bib No. 1275 at the New York City Marathon in honor of the more than 1.2 million people with spinal cord injuries.

He ran his first marathon Sunday to raise money for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

The 29-year-old filmmaker is the eldest son of Christopher Reeve and Gae Exton of Britain. Reeve was 15 when his father broke his neck during an equestrian competition in 1995.

He finished in 4:23:36 as part of the 70-member Team Reeve, each contributing a minimum of $4,000 to run. Reeve’s goal was to raise $26,200 or $1,000 per mile.

Reeve said the first half of the race was “absolutely fine,” but the final three miles were “new territory” regarding physical pain.

“I kept thinking of all the people living with a spinal cord injury, and the fact that there are 1.275 million of them, and pretty quickly, those thoughts of quitting evaporate,” Reeve said. “You just focus on putting one foot in front of the other, and the next thing you know, the finish line is in sight, the crowd is roaring, you see your family members watching, and you run those last two hundred yards as if they were the first.”

Actor Edward Norton said the race was “phenomenal” and he felt well prepared. Norton clocked 3:48:01, one of the 30 runners raising money for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, an effort to preserve the biodiversity within tribal lands in Kenya and Tanzania.

Parashi Ntanin, a Maasai warrior from Kenya, finished in 3:33:54. Norton said before the run that the effort had raised $560,000.

Actor Anthony Edwards (4:08:20), wearing green hospital scrubs, and two-time NYC Marathon champion Tegla Loroupe ran in support of Shoe4Africa, which plans to build the first public children’s hospital in Kenya.

Edwards called the race “so much harder than I imagined. The crowd was a big help — like your wings.”

This is an important cause of Loroupe, who is from Kenya. She says her brother died last month after he was given the wrong medication.

Shoe4Africa founder Toby Tanser said the charity gave out 12,000 pairs of shoes last December in Kenya.

Olympic speedskating champion Dan Jansen and hockey great Pat LaFontaine participated in the ING Run for Something Better, which supports youth running around the country. Decked out in an orange jersey and shoelaces, Jansen finished his second NYC Marathon in 3:41:43. He stopped several times because of blisters.

“I got passed by a guy in a tiger suit around mile 25, and I couldn’t let him beat me,” Jansen said.

LaFontaine, who has run Ironman events and half-marathons, crossed in 4:27:08.

Some 6,800 runners were among 80 official NYC Marathon charities that expected to raise a record $21 million.

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SHALOM, CENTRAL PARK: Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat ran with 15 Israeli paratroopers in celebration of his 50th birthday on Oct. 19.

This was his fifth marathon, with two others in Israel and one each in Paris and Berlin. He finished in 4:42:46.

On Friday, Barkat called New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg “a good friend to the people of Jerusalem.”

Barkat wants to host an international marathon in Jerusalem in 2011.

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OPEN WIDE: American Brian Sell plans to hang up his running shoes and pick up a dental drill.

Sell finished the NYC Marathon in 2:24:59 and says his 10th marathon will be his last.

He last ran in New York City during the U.S. men’s Olympic marathon trials in 2007. He finished third (2:11:40) and qualified for the Beijing Olympics, but the day was overshadowed by the death of Ryan Shay.

The 28-year-old Shay collapsed at the 5½-mile mark in Central Park.

Sell finished 22nd at the Beijing Olympics in 2 hours, 16 minutes. He posted the same time in a 14th-place finish at the Boston Marathon this year.

He’s averaged 140 miles a week the last few years and looks forward to tapering off. Sell, of Rochester Hills, Mich., has applied to various dental schools, including North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Temple and Ohio State.

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WHEELCHAIR WINNERS: Kurt Fearnley of Australia won the men’s wheelchair event for the fourth time in New York, edging Krige Schabort of Cedartown, Ga., in a photo finish.

They both clocked 1:35:58 in the final push across the finish line in Central Park.

“I’ve been involved in a couple of sprint finishes but nothing as close as that,” Fearnley said. “Suddenly, I was an inch or two in front.”

Edith Hunker of Switzerland won the women’s race in 1:58:15. She defeated Shelly Woods of Britain by seven seconds.

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