On the 25th anniversary of her greatest running triumph, Joan Benoit Samuelson revealed a new challenge — another marathon run to help celebrate that achievement.

Samuelson, 52, of Freeport, announced Wednesday that she will compete in the New York City Marathon. It will be her fifth entry into one of the top fall marathons, and her first NYC race since 2001.

The New York City Marathon, celebrating its 40th anniversary, will be contested on Sunday, Nov. 1.

“The door has opened again,” Samuelson said in a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “It came a little faster than I anticipated, but it makes perfect sense to me to run a marathon in my 25th year.”

The announcement came on the 25-year anniversary of her gold-medal run in the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

That victory came after a performance Samuelson still can’t explain — winning the U.S. Trials 17 days after arthroscopic knee surgery. Then on Aug. 5 at the Olympics, Samuelson unexpectedly broke away from the elite field of runners at the first water stop and opened a huge lead on a hot day. Samuelson ran alone the rest of the way to win the gold medal by a margin of 1 minute, 26 seconds.

New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg, a former American-ranked marathoner, took women’s distance running for granted when Samuelson made her legendary run in Los Angeles.

“I was a junior in college and I wasn’t as aware of the historical significance,” Wittenberg said. “I thought, of course, women can run the marathon. But, I have come to appreciate the effort that others made to get the marathon in the Olympics and come to appreciate that incredible field of runners.

“It was a moment when those athletes helped the gate swing wide open for us to have that level of performance now in the marathon.”

Wittenberg also said that Samuelson’s entry adds a “golden glow” to this year’s race.

Samuelson hinted last week that a fall marathon might be in her future. After setting an American record for her age group at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, Samuelson said that would be her last competitive marathon, but as she said last week and repeated Wednesday during the conference call, “I never said what constitutes competitive.”

What she once assumed would be a marathon race as merely someone’s running partner, such as her daughter or friend, has turned into a celebration of her 25th and New York City’s 40th anniversaries.

While insisting that she has no immediate goal in mind, the race’s 50-plus division record of 2:53:53 has gotten her attention. That time is four minutes slower than her American record of 2:49:08 set at the Trials in Boston in April 2008.

She added that she will not line up with the elite women’s field, but will start with the pack of regular runners.

Running in several road races this summer, Samuelson says she is running 50-70 miles per week and feels as healthy as she has in years, including one long run of roughly 15 miles every week. She is scheduled to run the Falmouth road race in Massachusetts this weekend. 

Samuelson, who has won the Boston and Chicago marathons twice, has never won the New York City Marathon. Her best finish was 1988, when she finished third in 2:32:40. She was also sixth in 1991 (2:33:48) and the top master finisher (40 and older) in 1998 (2:41:06.) In her last NYC race, Samuelson was 2:42:56 in 2001.

Three years ago, Samuelson ran the final 16 miles of the NYC Marathon to help pace Lance Armstrong to a sub-3 hour marathon.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.