Tumwater commemorates 1984 women’s Olympic marathon trials

Champion Joan Benoit to attend, May 12 to 19 as a week of celebration for the historic sporting event.


In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 1984 women’s Olympic marathon trials, Tumwater Mayor Debbie Sullivan proclaimed May 12 to 19 as a week of celebration for the historic sporting event.

The proclamation was made on Tuesday, May 7, and was received by Councilmember Eileen Swarthout, who is part of a committee organizing various events in commemoration of the marathon trials.

The year 1984 was the first time women marathoners were allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.

The country’s representatives for the women’s marathon were determined through the trials held on May 12, 1984, at Thurston County. Two-hundred thirty-eight women marathoners competed at the trials which Joan Benoit Samuelson from Maine won.

Benoit later won gold at the Los Angeles Olympia Games, making her the first women’s Olympic marathon champion.

The mayor’s proclamation also recognized over 4,000 volunteers from Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Thurston County, St. Martin’s College, several state agencies, and other groups who helped organize the trials.

As part of the coming week of celebration, the Olympia Trials Legacy Committee is organizing three events in Olympia.

Benoit will attend a banquet at the Indian Summer County Club on May 17. According to the committee’s Facebook page, other participants include Julie Brown, who competed along with Benoist at the 1984 Olympics; Sister Marion Irvine, who at the age of 54 back then was the oldest runner during the trials; Marilyn Bevans, the first black woman to run at the Boston Marathon; and Olympic marathoner Frank Shorter.

Benoit and the other athletes will also attend the Capitol City Marathon Expo at Sylvester Park, Olympia on May 18 and 19. Swarthout told the council that the public may attend the event for a meet and greet with the athletes.


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