Detroit’s Jocelyn Benson etched her name into the history books after completing her second Boston Marathon on Monday.
But it wasn’t for the 6 hours, 12, minutes, 32 seconds it took her to finish the prestigious race. Instead, Benson, the dean of Wayne State University’s Law School, became one of the handful of women to finish the marathon while eight months pregnant.
“I found out in September that I was accepted to run in Boston, and I found out a month later that I was pregnant,” said Benson, 38. “Initially, I thought that eight months would be too far along for me to compete. But then I read a story about Amy Kiel, who had my same due date, was in her mid-30s and had finished Boston in 2015.
“Her story inspired me to realize what seemed impossible was possible. So, I started training and, with the blessing of my doctor, flew to Boston to run.”
She and her husband, Ryan Friedrichs, are expecting their first child in June.
Benson qualified for Boston at the San Diego Marathon in May with a time of 3:37. She also ran the Portland Marathon in Oregon in October, when she was one month pregnant.
Benson completed her first Boston Marathon in 4 hours in 2009, which became a goal of hers after running her first marathon, the Detroit Free Press Marathon, in 2005.
“My first marathon experience in Detroit was so positive that I decided afterward to train and try to qualify for Boston,” Benson said.
She began running two marathons a year, and qualified for Boston for the first time in May 2008 at the Traverse City Track Club Bayshore Marathon.
“Running in Boston in 2009 was the best marathon experience of my life,” Benson said. “It meant a lot to me because Wellesley College, where I went for my undergraduate degree, is the halfway point of the race, and because I had completed my law degree at Harvard Law in nearby Cambridge and met my husband there. Being able to run in Boston is a very special experience, and the fan support is unrivaled.”
Benson was appointed dean of Wayne Law in June 2014, after having served as interim dean since December 2012. At the time of her appointment, at age 36, she became the youngest woman ever to lead a U.S. law school.
In October, Benson, a civil rights advocate and national election law expert, was inducted into the 32nd class of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. She is one of the youngest inductees, second only to Serena Williams, a 2012 inductee.