BOSTON — It's been 40 years since Maine running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson ran a course record to win the 83rd Boston Marathon in 1979.
At the time, "Joanie" was just a 21-year-old student at Bowdoin College, widely unknown to the professional running community.
A stint transfer to North Carolina State where she earned multiple All-America honors certainly put her on the map, however, her incredible talent hadn't yet hit the world stage until she returned to Brunswick to complete her degree.
On April 16, 1979, the senior toed the line in the world's oldest annual marathon. Wearing her Polar Bears varsity singlet and a distinct Red Sox cap, she ran from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, to Boston's Boylston Street in a women's division-winning time of 2 hours, 35 minutes, 15 seconds.
The time set both a national and course record.
Following a third-place finish two years later in 1981, which preceded surgery to both Achilles later that year, Samuelson would win the 1983 Boston Marathon in a then-world record of 2 hours, 22 minutes, 43 seconds.
A lifetime second-best, the time still ranks 13th on Boston's all-time list.
A year later, she'd win the inaugural women's marathon at the 1984 Olympic Games, cementing her place among the greatest athletes to ever compete.
This spring, Samuelson will once again run Boston.
The 61-year-old announced Friday she'll be competing at the Boston Marathon for the first time since 2015, where she finished in 2 hours, 54 minutes, 3 seconds. She won the veteran's division – ages 50-59 – at the 2011, 2013 and 2014 marathons; 2013 was a division record.
Her goal this year? Running within 40 minutes of her 1979 time.
“I might as well celebrate during an anniversary year, while I’m still able!" she told the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the race.
The BAA says Samuelson's presence is revered.
"Joanie’s impact on American running, the Boston Marathon, and women’s running in general has been instrumental, and has inspired thousands of Boston Marathoners," said Tom Grilk, the BAA's CEO. "We look forward to her crossing the finish line again on April 15."