Joan Benoit won first women’s marathon on this day in Olympic history


Aug. 5, 1984

Joan Benoit stepped to the starting line of the first women’s marathon in Olympics history. When she crossed the finish line in 2 hours 24 minutes 52 seconds, the Boston native and world-record holder became the event’s first gold-medal winner.

Benoit finished more than a minute ahead of second-place Grete Weitz from Norway (2:26:18). Portugal’s Mora Rosa took bronze.

Two other Americans were in the field of 50 women competing in the milestone event. Julie Brown of Montana finished 36th, and Julie Isphording of Ohio was one of six athletes who did not finish the event.

In the seven Olympic Games since the addition of the women’s marathon, the United States has recorded just one other podium finish in the event. At the 2004 games in Athens, Deena Castor earned the bronze medal when she crossed the finish line in 2:27:20, just a minute behind Japan’s Mizuki Noguchi.