For this week's throwback I want to take all of you back with me to one of the reasons I even started to run. I was a junior high kid at the time in 6th grade with very little idea of what truly my life would be like. When it came to sports I knew what I was NOT good at, baseball, football, tennis, and a lot of other hand eye coordinated sports. Watching this race made me look at running in a whole new light and running the mile in PE class took on a whole new meaning. The rest is history and running became my life. I clearly remember watching the race on TV and being in awe at how hard it was for me to run 1 mile and these runners were running 26.2 miles much faster than I could ever dream to do! While most of my friends said that must be boring I was glued to the TV set sitting 3 ft away from it watching every step of that race and listening to every stories the commentator spoke about. You see the 1984 Olympic Women's Marathon was the very 1st ever women's Olympic Marathon. Yes that's correct women before 1984 were not allowed to run the marathon as it was thought to be way too difficult and a health hazard. Its unbelievable to think that today after watching some amazing marathon performances year after year. In fact Women had been banned from even running the 800 meter race before 1960! Saying it was too physically demanding for women??? After much effort by the running community in 1984 women finally were able to race the marathon in the Olympics and what a race it was! Race conditions were not ideal. With temperatures in the high 80's high and humidity even high at 95% you would have expected a slow pace with a ton of strategy until the end but Joan Benoit Samuelson of the US had other plans. Early in the race she made what would be a decisive move to take and extend the lead. Many of you competitors thought is was running suicide to go out that fast on a day that humid and hot so no one gave chance a mistake that was fatal as Benoit ran away with the race and won by over a minute over second place the great Grete Waitz. I remember as Benoit entered the stadium to a crowd 100,000 spectators as they all rose to their feet and the noise was just truly amazing! I got goosebumps as she ran her last lap and on to victory! They joy on her face made me want to experience that for myself. I wanted to run! As I watch other runners finish and thought about changing the channel something entirely magical happened. Gabriela Anderson-Schiess from Switzerland entered the stadium and I remember how tired she looks barely being able to keep her body upright and not fall. At first the crowd and all of us watching this didn't know how to react. Do you cheer do you cry with her to you feel sorry for her? No she proved to all of us that she wanted us to cheer to push her to push through the pain with her! I had thought the cheers were loud for Benoit when she won but now the entire stadium was on its feet the noise was deafening as Anderson struggle to walk and run with every step. She was now moving in across multiple lanes zig zagging almost as if with no control over her body and where she was going. Her back was bent almost in a cramp and couldn't get upright. Her legs muscles were lock almost straight with very little bend. It many ways to was both horrifying to watch yet unbelievably inspirational . Here was a runner in 37th place 20 minutes behind the winner that was not going to give up not goign to stop not going to fail at living her Olympic dream for her and for her nation! She was fully dehydrated and possibly very close to a heat stroke yet refused to let medical personal help her s she would have been disqualified. She was going to reach that finish line! As she made her way around the last turn with 100 meters to go I remember thinking "she's going to do it!" I yelled out "GO!" to the TV as if somehow she could hear me! At this point the whole world was focused on this brave runner the crowd was cheering for her effort for her heart for what she was giving our sport that day! As she stepped over the finish line she collapsed into the arm of an official and medical personnel rushed to carry her to the medical tent. The goosebumps the joy the utter amazement we were all feeling was enough to make everyone want to be her that day! I was hooked on that feeling from that day on! To see a person have that much gut that much grit that much dedication to anything inspired a whole generation. The 1984 Olympics was historical for many reasons. The first every Olympic marathon for women and Joan Benoit and her historic performance but for me and many I'll remember the extraordinary efforts of Anderson for the rest of my life! Hope you enjoyed this piece of running history! Video below of the inspiration finish!
7/7/2018 11:28:23 pm
It is no longer unusual to see women excel in any sport nowadays. What can be really noteworthy are women who were able to do this back in the days when women are not allowed to pretty much do anything because they are women. It's sad to hear that in some places across the globe, women are still not treated nicely. They are not sent to school and they don't have a say on who they should marry. It's a still a sad world of discrimination and honour killings in the middle east. I hope they all put an end on this.
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Coach Rojas has 11 combined years of coaching experience at various levels including coaching a high school D1 State finalist team and 3 years in a row of a top 10 state ranking. He is passionate of the sport of running and loves to see new runners take up the sport! He wants to share a lifetime of running experience to all