Skip to main content
Press Release

Gold medal winner will mentor local individuals

Aug. 01, 2012


Olympic champion Joan Benoit Samuelson joined Hannaford Supermarkets in launching “There is No Finish Line,” a program that helps inspire self-described “back-of-the-pack” athletes to become fitness champions.


For Immediate Release:
Aug. 1, 2012

Eric Blom

News Release

Gold medal winner will mentor local individuals, inspire people to achieve their personal fitness goals

SCARBOROUGH, Maine – Olympic champion Joan Benoit Samuelson joined Hannaford Supermarkets today in formally launching “There is No Finish Line,” a program that helps inspire self-described “back-of-the-pack” athletes to become fitness champions.

As part of the announcement, Samuelson introduced Hilda Sastre of Saco, a 35-year-old single mom who is working to improve her health and achieve new fitness goals.  Her story was selected as particularly inspirational from among those submitted to the program.

There is No Finish Line helps people of all ages and physical abilities to become active on their own terms and to achieve goals that might now seem out of their reach. It celebrates their accomplishments and provides inspirational stories for others.

“Setting goals and believing in yourself is as important to maintaining your health as it is to competing at the highest levels of a sport,” said Samuelson, a Freeport resident who won the gold medal in the first women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. “With the support of Hannaford, There is No Finish Line provides individuals with tools and inspiration for achieving their own fitness dreams.”

The program includes training runs and film premieres with Samuelson in Portland and two other cities, as well as her support and mentorship for individuals. Nutrition advice, fitness tips and inspirational videos will be shared via the web.

The program is inspired by Samuelson’s lifelong devotion to wellness and Hannaford’s commitment to providing individuals with nutritious food and the information they need to make healthy choices.

The program officially began in Portland Tuesday, with the local premiere of a documentary about Samuelson’s extraordinary story. The film -- also titled “There is No Finish Line” – was shown at Hannaford Hall on the University of Southern Maine Portland campus.

This morning, Samuelson held training runs in Portland, beginning at the Hannaford Supermarket & Pharmacy on Forest Avenue, with several dozen individuals who submitted essays about overcoming health challenges and whose stories have particularly inspired her.  Similar events are planned later this summer in Albany, N.Y., and Manchester, N.H.

“Hannaford is excited to partner with Joan Benoit Samuelson to help people accomplish their fitness goals, not just today but throughout their lives,” said Julie Greene, who is manager of healthy living at Hannaford. “The passion and commitment of Olympians such as Joan are qualities that all of us can learn from and use as inspiration.”

Through There is No Finish Line, the challenges and accomplishments of individuals pursuing their fitness goals -- whether that is competing in a race for the first time or working toward a personal-best performance in a marathon – will be posted online through Nutrition and fitness information also will be provided.

Sastre offered one such story in the essay she wrote to There is No Finish Line: “After the birth of my second son, I found myself with a hypothyroid, asthmatic, 30 pounds heavier than ever, and I'm small-framed, so it looked and felt horrible.” In February of this year, she began working to improve her health, and has set her sights on completing the Beach to Beach Race this month and, some day, a half-marathon.

She will receive Samuelson’s support in that effort, and her journey will be chronicled online through There Is No Finish Line.

Samuelson, who is a native of Cape Elizabeth and graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, on Wednesday offered three motivational tools that helped her achieve Olympic fame and can help inspire people to achieve their own goals.

• Passion:Find an activity that you really love and care about, so that the interest is something you will want to maintain over time.  She found running while growing up in Cape Elizabeth and remains passionate about it today.
• Patience: Training for a marathon and accomplishing your goals takes place one stride at a time, day after day. If you expect instant success and don’t put in the work, there’s no way you can succeed.
• Perseverance: Just 17 days before the trials for the 1984 Olympics, Samuelson underwent surgery, and many people thought she would not be able to race, much less win the marathon.  Working through challenges and remaining focused on doing the most that you can, is a key to success.

“People have different goals and start at different places physically,” Samuelson said.  “What we all share is the ability to strive, throughout our lives, to improve our wellness and achieve new milestones.  When there is no finish line, everyone who competes is a champion in the making.”

About Hannaford Supermarkets
Hannaford Supermarkets, based in Scarborough, Maine, operates 181 stores in the Northeast. Stores are located in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. All Hannaford stores feature Guiding Stars, America’s first storewide nutrition navigation system and most stores have full-service pharmacies. Hannaford employs more than 26,000 associates. Additional information can be found at