Joan Benoit Samuelson

As I read the first few pages of a recent article about marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson ("A Wicked Good Life", January 2008 Runner's World magazine) the realization slowly comes to me that it's written extraordinarily well. Only then do I flip back and discover the author is Kenny Moore. He does a superb job of profiling Samuelson, now 50 years old and still a lovely, amazing, ultra-high-energy person. I can only hope that the essay turns into a chapter of a book some day, like Moore's biography of Bill Bowerman. A representative snippet, as Moore visits Joan at her home in Maine:

On our first night together, Joan serves buttery beets, beans, and pungent salad greens, fresh from her garden. She is tanned and lean — leaner, it seems, than in her 20s, her great years when she won the two Boston marathons. Her fastest marathon, the American record until 2003, was the 2:21:21 she ran to defeat Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen in Chicago in 1985. Then she was a sprite, a waif in a Red Sox cap, and her strength the more astounding for it. Now her chin and nose are sharper. She's grown into the face of a great marathoner, and much more.

A few decades ago I had a similar experience when reading a startlingly-smooth essay in The New Yorker magazine, the 3 July 1978 issue. It was titled "Giving Good Weight" and focused on farmer's markets. Not a subject one might ordinarily find too gripping, but as the prose flowed past I came up for air and had to turn back to the title page, where I discovered who it was by: John McPhee.

In both cases, I should have known ...

(cf. SenseOfWhereYouAre (4 Jun 1999), InvisibleWriting (16 Dec 1999), DefensiveQuestions (12 May 2000), WorldTradeCenter (11 Sep 2001), IndianRiver (30 Jul 2004), WithoutLimits (12 Feb 2005), BillBowerman (18 Feb 2006), LessonsOfTheMarathon (28 Aug 2006), RunningVersusTraining (22 Sep 2006), UncommonCarriers (23 Apr 2007), ...)


(correlates: BillBowerman, RunningVersusTraining, EmersonOnInformationRetrieval, ...)