BOSTON — The decision to run the Boston Marathon came earlier this month when Joan Benoit Samuelson was introduced by a Boston Athletic Association official with a prelude that began:

“In this 40th year of women at Boston, I’m happy to “

Wait a minute, Samuelson thought. Forty years?

“Then I thought, ’40 years of Title IX,’ ” she said. “It’s also 40 years of Nike.”

Unless she’s motivated to run fast, you see, Samuelson needs a story to accompany her marathons. She was leaning toward London this coming weekend because it’s the Olympic venue and it’s an Olympic year.

But Abby Samuelson, who works in marketing for Nike, had registered for Boston. Mother and daughter running together amid all those significant anniversaries?

“It would be such a cool thing,” Samuelson said. “Because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

So Joan, of Freeport, accompanied Abby all the way to the end, lending a shoulder when daughter felt light-headed, stopping to stroll through late-race water stations, offering encouragement whenever necessary.

“It was great,” Joan said. “Really special. She was very tough out there.”

Abby finished in 3:28:08, a moment ahead of her mother and more than two minutes faster than her 2011 marathon debut.

“I was getting dizzy,” Abby said. “It was brutal out there. But I’m proud to say I didn’t walk in the hills this year.”

Abby said her mother remained a little behind her during the race.

“I don’t think many people knew the connection,” Abby said, “so I think it may have been tough for her to have people think that’s where she was.”

SIX MAINE runners broke 3 hours. Besides Sheri Piers (2:41:55) of Falmouth and Nick Wheeler (2:33:30) of Rockland, they were Robert Ashby (2:51:09) of Brunswick, Al Bugbee (2:52:37) of Falmouth, David Bates (2:58:50) of Tenants Harbor and Joseph Capehart (2:59:09) of Bangor.

Ashby, 43, has run 36 marathons but had not completed Boston since 1990.

Ashby planned on qualifying for Boston at an August marathon in Quebec City, only to learn on the bus to the starting line that organizers were canceling the race because of Hurricane Irene. He wound up running 2:41 at the Maine Marathon in October, but the Boston field already was full.

Without telling him, his wife, Fran, emailed BAA officials, explained the situation and wondered if they would allow her husband an entry. She delivered the news in late December.

On Monday she remained home in Brunswick with their four kids and, wary of the weather, kept track of his progress on the computer.

“It was fun,” Ashby said. “I’m glad I did it.”

THREE WIDOWS associated with Run for the Fallen Maine and profiled in the Maine Sunday Telegram completed their first Boston Marathons despite laboring more than 5 hours after starting in the final wave of runners at 10:40 a.m.

“It was really hot,” said Lynel Zimmerman, who was timed in 5:52.51. “Definitely one of the hardest runs I’ve ever done.”

Zimmerman ran several miles with Megan Gavin-Kirk, who finished in 5:51:08.

“I heard a lot of thank yous,” from fans along the course, said Gavin-Kirk. “It was an emotional run.”

Kyla Krueger crossed the line in 5:15:29. They, with five others running in honor of a fallen Maine soldier, gathered before the race and after the race.

“Most people, I don’t know if they knew the cause,” Zimmerman said. “But fans here overall are very supportive.”

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH