By: James McLean
The Olympics are just a month away and we need to have a serious conversation about the coolest runner to have ever raced under the red, white and blue. While the U.S. has fashioned some incredible runners throughout our history in the Olympic Games, it is seldom that you find a U.S. athlete that can dominate the marathon. But let’s open up our history books and take a stroll back to 1984.
This year was at its core an objectively cool one. Prince made Purple Rain, Jeopardy! started, Eddie Murphy simply existed and shined, and an old-timey thing called a Music Video first aired on MTV. But all this pales in comparison to one name: Joan Benoit.
Haven’t heard of her? Shame on you. Joan is not just a former legend, she is a living legend. Joan busted onto the long-distance scene with spectacular fashion. At 22, she placed second in The Bermuda Marathon. For the next ten years, she would go on to win six major marathons, including: Boston Marathon (2), Chicago Marathon, and oh yeah—the Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles.
Because of pure sexism, the Olympics did not host a marathon for female athletes until 1984, and I’m sure if we read into their reasoning, it would probably sound like something your least favorite uncle says after a few drinks. We are an anti-terrible uncle organization. But what makes Benoit so impressive, is that she crushed records left and right for years, broke barriers for women, and is STILL DOING IT.
She was 1st in her age group in the Boston Marathon as recently as 2019. And she did so with a confidence and swagger that only can be personified by the below photo. Truly—a living legend.
So, as we get set and ready for these upcoming Olympic Games, you don’t need to stretch too far in the history books to have a favorite U.S. Olympic Champion. And if you’re lucky, you may be lacing up against her in an upcoming Majors. If you are, my money is on Joan.