BOSTON – The day before the Boston Marathon, two marathons were found on Giants Boylston Street.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, a two-time Boston Marathon winner and first Olympic women’s marathon champion, introduces Marco Yogita, the first woman in the upper 60s to run a marathon in less than three hours.
“I am reluctant to meet him. I’ve been thinking a lot about the questions I want to ask him, “Yogita, 63, said before Sunday’s meeting. “She’s been operating at a high level for a long time. Now what kind of things does she do to keep going?
She came near Benoit Samuelsson, 64, with one hand on his mouth and tears in his eyes. They shared an extended hand.
Yogita was pregnant when she won the Olympic gold at Benoit Samuelson in 1984, he said. He shared with Benoit Samuelson his experience of seeing the moment of victory, remembering the color of his jersey and how he raised his hands in the victory. Benoit Samuelsson replied: “Walking is a two-way street. We all inspire each other.
Indeed, she was taken over by Yogita, who assumed a title in 2019 that many thought would capture Benoit Samuelson. Yogita’s Japan Shimonoseki Kaikyo Marathon in 2019 runs 2 hours 59 minutes 15 seconds, then breaks the mark by racing two years later in the 2021 Osaka International Women’s Marathon 2:52:13.
Yogita is the mother of four children. Her age is 37, “like Capuchogi,” he said, referring to men’s marathon world record holder Eliot Capuchogi, and her youngest is 26. He did not begin training for high speed until his mid-50s.
“It was always something I wanted to do,” she said of her belief that she was able to run a marathon in less than three hours.
Yogita increased his mileage and began training periodically, joining an amateur running club in Tokyo. His goals began to come together. In one of the early races, he drove a man with a t-shirt who said he was running his 100th marathon.
“I thought: People do 100 marathons? Wow that’s what I want to do,” he said. “Now I’m thinking about 150 marathons.”
His training partners are much smaller than he is. Yogita works in a high school, and does speed work with the track team. (They can push her ahead in the 800-meter repeat session, but when any workout is longer than 3,000 meters, she can handle it herself.) In the off-season, she logged 62 to 70 miles a week. Yes, and while she is preparing. A marathon, she runs 77 miles a week.
She arrived in Boston with the latest village under her belt. She became the Tokyo Marathon in 3:04:16 in March. A week later, she became the Nagoya Women’s Marathon in 2:58:40. They were considered a fitness check, he said.
Yogita speaks with the humility of an athlete who respects the unexpected ability to walk distance and the confidence of someone who has completed 114 marathons. She said she was flowing in the Boston Marathon on her first start of the season, a passion that at least combined with the urge to set a world record.
“I’ve run in a lot of different situations,” he said. “If you are too close to the routine then if you are in a situation like this you cannot follow your routine and you will be very bad.
Yogita didn’t give a shit about the advance. She wasn’t sure what she would eat at breakfast, but she said she would eat whatever in the hotel. As long as it has enough, she will be fine, she said.
She had two wishes going into the Boston Marathon. “I really want people around the world to know that there is a woman in her 60s, far away in Japan, who is running sub-par for marathons,” she said. “And I really want to cross the finish line at the second starting clock.”
Indeed, on Sunday, to his surprise, he was greeted by fans. Is it you They say, showing Yogita, who was wearing a mask, a picture of himself. She looks at them with wide eyes and smiles for a picture, fingers up.
On Monday, she fell short of her goal time, finishing in 3:06:27.
Still, she manages to maintain her momentum – except if she’s going to cheat with a new partner. On Sunday, Benoit Samuelson said she wants to run the Tokyo Marathon. “When?” Yogita replied.
Maybe next year. And maybe they can run together, said Benoit Samuelsson, who plans to run the Boston Marathon next year to celebrate 65 years.
He added, “Yes, he has to slow down his pace for me.”
“Not a race,” added Benoit Samuelson, “but a celebration.”
Brett Larner assisted reporting.