Sports & Gaming

Meet Your Instructor

Joan Benoit Samuelson

Lesson time 06:36 min

Decorated marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson welcomes you to her class, tells you what it covers, and shares her inspiring story of how she went from dark horse to gold medalist in the first women’s Olympic Games marathon.

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Topics include: Meet Your Instructor: Joan Benoit Samuelson


[MUSIC PLAYING] JOAN BENOIT SAMUELSON (VOICEOVER): Victory to me has many different meanings. [MUSIC PLAYING] Truthfully, I think victory is when you find fulfillment and satisfaction that can be shared with people who have inspired you and motivated you and nurtured you, and you can turn around and inspire them and others. [MUSIC PLAYING] - Running in my life as a young person gave me a feeling of freedom. It also gave me a feeling of success when I set a goal for myself and was able to achieve that goal. When I first started to run, I ran inside the confines of an old abandoned Army post. And there wasn't any vehicular traffic allowed in that area at the time, so I would walk from our house to the fort and I would run to my heart's desire. And then I'd walk home because I was embarrassed to be seen running on the roads. I grew up in a family of brothers, and I grew up in a neighborhood full of boys, and I always worried a little bit about my tomboy image. And as I grew through adolescence into teenagehood, I wanted to shake that image. The same time, I had this passion to test myself and to run and to see how far I could run and how fast I could run. And then, one day, I decided, I don't care what anybody thinks about what I'm doing. I only care about what I like to do and enjoy doing. And that was to run and to test myself and to test my limits. When I think back to the 1984 Olympic games and think about how fortunate I was to run in the first ever Olympic marathon for women, I remember lining up at Santa Monica City College in the parade of athletes, and I found myself in the very last position because the US, as the host nation, marched in that last position, and I, being the shortest member of our delegation, was in the caboose position. And oftentimes, having grown up with three brothers, my mother would remind me that last shall come first and first shall come last, because I was usually last in getting where I wanted to be. And so that was my mantra throughout the race. And little did I know that last would be come first because I wasn't the favorite in the race. And I remember approaching the Coliseum in first place and realizing that I had the possibility of winning this race because I couldn't hear any other footsteps behind me. I asked myself if I was capable of carrying the mantle that would come with the first Olympic women's marathon victory, and I quickly decided that I would figure it out and that I would not change who I was as a person, and that I would give back to a sport and a community that have given so much to me. The marathon was really a metaphor for life. Anything can happen in a marathon that derails one athlete or another. And there can be unexpected things happening in one's life that will derail a person's desire to follow a certain path. Obstacles and bends in the road and curves and the road can present themselves at any time. And that's why I don't look at ...

About the Instructor

Winner of the very first women’s Olympic marathon, Joan Benoit Samuelson has spent her life breaking records and paving the way for female runners around the world. Now she’s teaching her personal philosophy and approach to running. Whether you’re an experienced runner or have been thinking about getting started, you’ll learn how to get motivated, set goals, and achieve victory in running and in life.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Joan Benoit Samuelson

Long-distance legend Joan Benoit Samuelson teaches her personal approach to running so you can go further in running and in life.

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