Women marathon runners who made history in the first-ever Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials will reunite in Olympia, May 17-19, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the historic event that took place on the original Capital City Marathon course in 1984.
Organized by the Olympic Trials Legacy Committee, in partnership with the Capital City Marathon Association, the reunion weekend features three days of festivities and events commemorating the accomplishments of women marathon runners from all over the United States who ran in the 1984 trials.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the Olympic qualifying race just 17 days following arthroscopic knee surgery, will participate in the weekend’s events. Qualifying for the USA Olympic Team in Olympia May 12, 1984, Benoit went on to win the Women’s Marathon in 2:24:52 at the 1984 Los Angeles games.
“It is an honor for me to return to Olympia 35 years after winning the first marathon trials here,” Benoit Samuelson said. “It’s a homecoming to a community that embraced and hosted all of us who qualified for this historic event. The outpouring of support and enthusiasm remains palpable to this day,” she said. “I look forward to celebrating this anniversary with participants, volunteers, and citizens who made the event possible.” Benoit Samuelson will be joined in Olympia by other women’s marathon qualifiers and a host of women distance running pioneers.
Capital City Marathon Race Director Nona Snell said, “Women runners around the world have benefited from the strength of those who ran in the trials here 35 years ago, and from the female athletes who preceded them.”
Laurel James, founder of Seattle’s iconic Super Jock ’n Jill retail store, who helped lead the effort to bring the trials event to Olympia—which was in competition with large venues such as New York and Los Angeles to win the historic bid—said the reunion is being held “not just to honor Joan Benoit Samuelson, but all of the women who qualified for the trials event.” She added, “They are all role models and examples for other women to set their sights high.”
Reunion festivities start Friday, May 17, with a luncheon co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Thurston County, and by the American Association of University Women. Featured speaker will be two-time marathon world record holder and author, Jacqueline Hansen, also the women’s division winner of the Boston Marathon in 1973.
The luncheon will be followed by a youth-focused event featuring Joan Benoit Samuelson at Olympia High School (OHS). This event is geared for cross country teams and girls in athletics, and for those with interest in the history of women’s right to participate in athletics. OHS Principal Matt Grant said, “Students will hear from those who wrote the history book of women’s distance running in the United States. The theme of this historical program is about breaking barriers with inspiring female role models who shattered barriers. It’s an inspirational story, rooted right here in Olympia.”
Friday’s activities end with a news conference and a private, invitation-only reception at the State Capitol.
Events on Saturday, May 18, include appearances by Benoit Samuelson and other pioneer women runners appearing at the Capital City Marathon Run Fair at Sylvester Park and then over to a ceremony to rededicate the name of Marathon Park. Benoit Samuelson will also be a guest speaker at the Capital City Marathon Pre-Run Dinner at the Capitol Rotunda between 5-8 p.m. Seating is limited, and tickets will not be sold at the door. To register, visit the Capital City Marathon website, https://capitalcitymarathon.enmotive.com/events/register/2019-capital-city-marathon.
Sunday, May 19, Joan Benoit Samuelson will participate in one of the scheduled races. She will also participate at the awards ceremony following the marathon.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or a partner of The Olympic Trials Legacy Committee for hosting these events, please visit any branch of Olympia Federal Savings Bank.
Note to Media: To schedule an interview with one of the athletes, please contact Jacqueline Hansen via email at [email protected]. For information about any of the events, contact Denise Keegan at 360-497-1177.