Open main menu

Mildred "Millie" Sampson (born 14 February 1933[nb 1]) is a former New Zealand long-distance runner who is recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations as having set a world best in the marathon on 21 July 1964, with a time of 3:19:33 in Auckland, New Zealand.[2][nb 2] Sampson was reportedly encouraged to enter the marathon at the Owairaka Athletic Club by the men she trained with, including Olympians Bill Baillie and Ivan Keats.[1] According to Sampson, Keats believed her participation would attract attention to the marathon and his running club which was organizing the event.[3] Sampson, reported as having been fatigued due to dancing the previous night and having had no breakfast the morning of the race, ate ice cream and chocolate during the last few miles of the race.[3][5] Reports after the race described her as a mother,[5][6] which was untrue.[3]


In the only other marathon that Sampson ever ran, her 3:13:58 in Auckland on 9 May 1970 was good enough for the sixth best woman's time in the world that year.[8][9][nb 3] She is a three-time national champion in cross country (1966, 1968, 1972)[1][10] and won unofficial national titles in the event from 1963 to 1965.[1]

As of 2008, Sampson worked at a drycleaners.[1]


  1. ^ An article in the Saturday, 9 February 2008 edition of The New Zealand Herald indicated that she would be turning 75 on the following Monday.[1]
  2. ^ Peter Heidenstrom, a statistician for Athletics New Zealand, has been reported as providing a date of December 1964,[3] however, the Association of Road Racing Statisticians notes the date of Sampson's performance was 16 August 1964.[4] Other sources from August to October 1964 support the August date.[5][6] The ARRS also notes that Sampson's mark was set during a time trial and does not recognize it in their progression of marathon world bests.[4][7]
  3. ^ The New Zealand Herald incorrectly reported that Sampson's performance was the second fastest of all time.[1] At that time, her mark was the second fastest of the year among women.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bingham, Eugene (9 February 2008), "Athletics: Trailblazer of women's distance running", The New Zealand Herald (online at, pp. 4–5, archived from the original on 23 February 2013
  2. ^ "12th IAAF World Championships In Athletics: IAAF Statistics Handbook. Berlin 2009" (PDF). Monte Carlo: IAAF Media & Public Relations Department. 2009. p. 653. Archived from the original (pdf) on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Jutel, Anne-Marie (2007), "Forgetting Millie Sampson: Collective Frameworks for Historical Memory.", New Zealand Journal of Media Studies, 10 (1): 31–36, archived from the original on 24 July 2011
  4. ^ a b "World Marathon Rankings for 1964". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved 21 May 2010. Mildred Sampson (NZL) ran 3:19:33 in a time trial on 16 Aug 1964 at Auckland NZL.
  5. ^ a b c "Housewife's Marathon Record Run", The Age, Melbourne, p. 22, 18 August 1964, retrieved 21 May 2010
  6. ^ a b Rogin, Gilbert (5 October 1964), "The Fastest Is Faster", Sports Illustrated, archived from the original on 5 March 2010, retrieved 21 May 2010, One Saturday last August, a Mrs. Millie Sampson, a 31-year-old mother of two who lives in the Auckland suburb of Manurewa, went dancing until 1 a.m. The next day she cooked dinner for 11 visitors. In between, she ran the marathon in 3:19.33, presumably a record.
  7. ^ "World Best Progressions- Road". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved 21 May 2010. The 3:19:33 by Milred Sampson (NZL) on 16 Aug 1964 at Auckland NZL was a time trial.
  8. ^ a b "World Marathon Rankings for 1970". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  9. ^ "Marathon List for 1970". Association of Road Racing Statisticians. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  10. ^ "New Zealand Championships". Retrieved 21 May 2010.
Preceded by
  Dale Greig
Women's Marathon World Record Holder
21 July 1964* – 6 May 1967
(*see explanation in the Notes section)
Succeeded by
  Maureen Wilton