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April 16, 2019

Comparing Samuelson and Howe

61-year-old Joan Samuelson ran yesterday’s Boston Marathon in 3:04:00. That’s really fast. How fast? Age-grading calculators say that’s worth about 2:19 for a woman under age 35.

Her stated goal was to run within 40 minutes of the time she posted while winning the race 40 years ago. She did that and then some; she was less than 30 minutes behind the then-world record time of 2:35:16 she ran in 1979. That day she wore a Bowdoin College singlet and a backwards Red Sox cap, and she did the same yesterday.

Samuelson’s career accomplishments are unparalleled in distance running: Olympic marathon champion, multi-time world record holder, four-time Boston Marathon winner, and ageless wonder. There is only one athlete in any sport whose accomplishments are similar: Gordie Howe.

Howe was the greatest left wing in the history of hockey, and is one of three men in the discussion for the greatest hockey player ever. Let’s see how the two of them measure up.

EDIT: Samuelson qualified to seven Olympic Trials marathons, but only ran in four.

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