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Running legend has a message

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She was the first Olympic women’s marathon champion (“my biggest win”).

She made it to those 1984 Los Angeles Games with a stirring victory at the Trials in Olympia, Wash., 17 days after knee surgery (“the race of my life, because on paper there was no way I should have been able to run that race”).

But one of Joan Benoit Samuelson’s most memorable marathons came April 16 of this year, one month before her 55th birthday. She returned to Boston, site of her world-record 2:22:43 triumph in 1983, and ran near her daughter, Abby Samuelson, 25, who finished in 3:28:08. “She really ran her heart out. It was an honor for me to accompany her,” Benoit Samuelson says.

Abby lives in Portland and works in marketing for Nike. Her famous mom, a Maine native who lives in Freeport, will travel to the Rose City on Wednesday to speak at a St. Mary’s Academy fundraiser that Friday and attend the Nike Cross Nationals the following day. Abby is heading up the annual cross-country race at Portland Meadows.

“I’m a longtime Nike athlete and advocate for many things,” Benoit Samuelson says, preparing for the trip. “I’ll do whatever they ask me to do, or my daughter asks me to do.”

The appearance for St. Mary’s is dear to her heart. It’s the 19th annual Food for Thought Tuition Assistance Luncheon, 11 a.m. on Nov. 30 at the Hilton Portland. “I was in high school when Title IX passed 40 years ago,” she says.

Benoit Samuelson’s many current missions include bringing awareness to health and environmental issues. “I’m a human barometer for climate change, having logged about 150,000 miles since I started running 40 years ago,” she says. “Conservation is to the environment what prevention is to health.”

She will bring a message to the SMA fundraiser. A bunch of messages, actually. She recites them like she is putting one foot ahead of the other.

“Live your dreams. Follow your heart. Anything is possible with hard work and dedication and most importantly passion. Run your own race. Believe in yourself.”

Happy birthday

Nov. 25, 1957 — Terry Stotts (age 55)

Nov. 26, 1960 — Harold Reynolds (age 52)

Nov. 25, 1963 — Chip Kelly (age 49)

Nov. 26, 1968 — Shawn Kemp (age 44)

Nov. 25, 1981 — Jared Jeffries (age 31)

Oregon sports history

Nov. 24, 1993 — Portland Interscholastic League coaches are reeling at a proposal by Superintendent Jack Bierwith to phase out funding for high school sports in the district by September 1995. Athletics would be among $75 million in cuts needed to offset decreased property tax revenue.

Nov. 20, 1995 — The Trail Blazers announce that their sellout streak of 814 games has come to an end, as 20,381 people attend a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Rose Garden (then capacity 21,401).

Nov. 26, 2006 — Bill Moos announces he will step down as University of Oregon athletic director.