Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe
Boston Marathon history

More history links:
 History index
 Past champions
 Closest men's finishes
 Closest women's finishes
 Johnny Kelley (1907-2004)
Rodgers Breaks Own Course Record for Third Win; Benoit Takes Women's Division

Monday, April 16, 1979

Men's Winner:Time:
1. Bill Rodgers, Boston 2:09:27
2. T. Seko, Japan2:10:12
3. R. Hodge, Boston 2:12:30
4. T. Fleming, Bloomfield, NJ 2:12:56
5. G. Bjorklund, Minneapolis 2:13:14

Women's Winner:Time:
1. Joan Benoit, Maine 2:35:15
2. P. Lyons, Boston2:38:22
3. S. Krenn, San Diego, CA 2:38:50
4. E. Hassell, Australia 2:39:48
5. S. Petersen, Laguna Beach, CA 2:43:02

Bill Rodgers pulled ahead of the pack this year to take the win and set a new course record, beating the old one he set in 1975.

In the women's division, newcomer Joan Benoit from Cape Elizabeth, Maine and Bowdoin College, cruised to her first Boston win, which happened to be a course and American record for women.

From the Boston Globe, Tuesday, April 17, 1979


By Joe Concannon
Globe Staff

The light, chilling rain splattered down on the pavement as Bill Rodgers and his wife, Ellen, eased their way through the lingering Boston Marathon crowd in Cleveland Circle at 3:45 yesterday afternoon. Out on the course a steady stream of runners turned down Beacon street for the final four miles of the race.

"Jack," shouted Rodgers as he spotted newscaster Jack Hynes amid the group, but there was no response as Hynes kept going, onward to the finish. His mission accomplished with a record Boston run, Rodgers was walking slowly up Chestnut Hill Avenue toward his store.

First, a few runners noticed him, all but stopping and shouting out, "Great race, Bill." By now, the word was out and before he reached the entrance to his basement store, the spectators had turned their backs on the runners, applauding the Marathon Man on his journey home.

Up above in a balcony, a cluster of young people with beer bottles in hand saluted, "Boston Billy." A couple under an umbrella stopped to shake his hand. "It's embarrassing," said Rodgers as he finally disappeared behind a locked door of his store, leaving the stage, once again, to the masses.

By Lesley Visser
Globe Staff

She stood freezing in a makeshift shower in the lower level of the Prudential garage. Her lips were blue, her feet bare on the cold stone, her body shook from the impact of 26 miles, 385 yards.

"I've been nervous for five weeks thinking about this," said 21-year-old Joan Bnoit of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, after winning the women's division of the 83rd BAA in 2:35:15, shattering Liane Winter's 1975 record of 2:42:24 and setting an American marathon record for women.

She set a six-minute pace for each mile, catching local favorite Patti Lyons of Quincy at the start of Heartbreak Hill and coasting in alone from the middle of the killing hills. Lyons, who averaged 110 miles a week in preparation, finished second in 2:38:22 and Elizabeth Hassell of Australia was third.

"I went too fast," said Benoit, who ran only the second marathon of her life yesterday. "When I heard I ran the first mile in 5:42 I said, 'Whoa.' Patti passed me five miles out, but then around 13 miles I heard the Wellesley girls screaming. Someone yelled I was 15 seconds behind Patti. Finally I caught her at Heartbreak Hill."

They ran together for a mile. Lyons, troubled by bursitis in her right foot, could not stay with Benoit, but her time of 2:38:22 would have bettered any previous marathon time by a woman.

"Joan wished me good luck," Lyons said, "but I knew I was in trouble 12 miles into the race. This foot has been bothering me for over a month. If I hadn't had a cortisone shot before the race, I would have dropped out after five miles."