A big congratulations to the Bay Area’s own Magdalena Lewy Boulet (affectionately known as Magda by almost everyone I know) for her terrific performance at the Rotterdam Marathon last weekend. Thirty-six year old Magda came in second in the race with an excellent time of 2:26:22, which makes her the fourth fastest marathoner in American history!
This accomplishment adds to her already impressive resume. Magda was born in Jastrzebie, Poland and relocated to America with her family as a teeanger. She graduated from Lakewood High School in Southern California in 1992. She spent a couple years at Long Beach City College and then transferred to the University of California, Berkeley. She met her future husband Richie Boulet on the Cal track team and has made the East Bay her home. She graduated from Cal in 1997, the same year that she set her collegiate 5000 meter PR of 16:04.86 while placing third at the NCAA Championships. An interview posted in 2004 gives a lot more detail about her background.
She became an American citizen on a never to be forgotten day, September 11, 2001. That same year she began her journey as a marathoner. In 2001, she ran her first marathon in 2:44. In 2004, she set a PR of 2:30:50 and placed fifth at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. In 2008, she returned to the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and led the race early in an attempt to make the Olympic team. She held on for second place, set a new PR of 2:30:19, and stamped her ticket to Beijing. About a week before the Olympic Marathon an unfortunate accident on a shuttle bus in China injured her knee. The knee stiffened during the race and Magda had to drop out after 20 kilometers. Pamakid Runner Frank Alupay was running through the polluted streets of Beijing following the Olympic Marathon. Frank was the only one who could keep up with another spectator, who turned out to be Magda’s husband Richie, himself a sub-four minute miler. When it became apparent that Magda was no longer in the race, Richie handed Frank a ticket that would get him into the Olympic Stadium to watch the conclusion of the women’s Olympic Marathon.
That’s the background on Magda. Up until this weekend, I thought of her as a very good American runner. As a two-time top five finisher at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and an Olympian she already had much to be proud of. But, I think her place in American distance running history jumped up several notches during her 26.2 mile tour of Rotterdam. Running negative splits of 1:13:55 and 1:12:25, Magda placed her name among the superstars of American women’s marathoning. Her 3:57 PR leapfrogs her from somewhere around the twenty-fifth fastest American woman in history to number four!
The top five:
1. Deena Kastor – 2:19:36 at the 2006 London Marathon (33 years old at the time).
2. Joan Samuelson – 2:21:21 at the 1985 Chicago Marathon (28 years old at the time).
3. Kara Goucher – 2:25:53 at the 2008 New York City Marathon (30 years old at the time).
4. Magdalena Lewy Boulet – 2:26:22 at the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon (36 years old at the time).
5. Julie Brown – 2:26:26 at the 1983 Avon International Marathon in Los Angeles (28 years old at the time).
What’s really cool about Magda is that she is active in the Bay Area running community. She and Peter Gilmore gave a free talk open to the public last January about preparing for a hilly marathon. Who ran 1:15:08 to win the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon last February? That would be Magda. If you are ever running in the East Bay on trails you are likely to be passed by Magda on one of her training runs. The next time you see her, thank her for representing the Bay Area running scene so well and congratulate her on her place in American marathon history!