Olympic great to host training sessions


Joan Benoit Samuelson won an Olympic medal and two Boston Marathons. Courtesy Gazelle Sports

With the River Bank Run around the corner and New Year’s resolutions in full force, an Olympic medalist is coming to West Michigan to help train local runners.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, an Olympic medalist and two-time Boston Marathon winner, will be in West Michigan this weekend for Gazelle Girl MeetUps. The sessions will be on Friday in Holland and Saturday in Grand Rapids.

Samuelson held the national women’s 25K record, 1:24:43 on the Fifth Third River Bank Run course, from 1986 to 2012.

“I’m looking forward to my return to West Michigan to kick off training for the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon & 5K,” Samuelson said. “When the women’s marathon was first introduced as an Olympic sport in 1984, I had the opportunity to take home a gold medal on behalf of my country.

“All events like the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5K provide opportunities for women everywhere to get involved and take home their personal ‘gold’ in terms of better health, a personal record or doing something they didn’t feel possible.”

The Fifth Third River Bank Run is on May 17 and the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5K is on April 17.

Holland visit

Samuelson will be at the Haworth Inn & Conference Center in Holland at 6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 8.

She will provide insight into her running career and host a question-and-answer session. Following, guests are invited to Holland’s Gazelle Sports for autographs and refreshments.

Grand Rapids visit

On 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9, women can join Samuelson for a two- to five-mile run at the Mary Free Bed YMCA, 5500 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids.

A question-and-answer session and refreshments will follow at the YMCA.


Gazelle Sports celebrated its 30th anniversary in November.

The retailer has grown from a single store in Kalamazoo and now has locations in Holland, Grand Rapids and Northville.

“The success of Gazelle Sports is a story of wonderful, caring people who believe in healthy living, healthy communities and healthy business,” Gazelle Sports co-founder Chris Lampen-Crowell said. “Gazelle Sports’ real success is the relationships that have been developed along the way, because when you provide exceptional care to customers, it becomes more than a transaction.

“You really do develop a relationship. I am profoundly grateful for all the people I have had the opportunity to form such relationships with, the people that have shopped, worked and partnered with us over these 30 years.”

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