Shalane Flanagan was determined to give it all at the Boston Marathon that took place today (April 16), and she did just that. This year, the 36-year-old athlete competed for her last time in the city’s biggest race, the Boston Herald reported on April 15, and was aspiring to end her elite runner career with a bang.
Flanagan seemed very enthusiastic and confident a few days before the race. The U.S. athlete was hoping to finally “make peace” with the Boston Marathon, which she was forced to forfeit last year due to a bone fracture in her lower back.
“I’m trying to have my best Boston race ever,” Flanagan said in a statement.
The runner was convinced the 2018 Boston Marathon was going to be her swan song — a final chance to win the 26.2-mile race. Today’s competition marked her fourth entry in the Boston race and the most anticipated one in her professional career.
“I just feel like it’s the time,” the Bostonian said days before the race.
Flanagan was even quoted to have said she wanted to win the 2018 Boston marathon “so badly” that she had to resort to reverse psychology in order to maintain focus.
“I almost feel like I have to pretend like I don’t want to win it in order to do well,” she said.
“So it’s a reverse psychology for sure, because this is home. And these are the people that I want to make the most proud,” Flanagan added.
Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out the way she had hoped, as Flanagan managed to only come in sixth in the women’s race. The U.S. elite runner finished the marathon in 2:46:31, the Washington Post reports.
The race was ultimately won by Desi Linden, with an unofficial time of 2:39:54 — more than 10 minutes off her personal record, notes Time Magazine.
According to USA Today, the 34-year-old athlete from Michigan displayed incredible sportsmanship before claiming her title by actually stopping to wait for Flanagan a couple of miles into the race.
Linden saw Flanagan making an emergency break (the athlete darted into a portable toilet) and decided to slow down and make sure her friend and competitor was alright.
“I told her (Flanagan) in the race, I said if there’s anything I can do to help you out, let me know because I might just drop out,” Linden said in a statement.
The 34-year-old runner not only stopped to wait for her friend but also helped Flanagan catch the lead pack, states USA Today.
As for herself, Flanagan was reportedly unsure she would even finish the Boston Marathon.
“Honestly at mile 2, 3, 4 I didn’t feel like I was gonna even make it to the finish line,” she said in an interview after her victory.
To her surprise, she went on to rank first in the women’s race, becoming the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. The last time the United States boasted such an impressive feat was in 1985 when Lisa Larsen Weidenbach was the victor of the Boston race.
“I love this city, this race, this course,” Linden said in a TV interview.
“It’s storybook,” the winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon added.
Today’s win will surely make Linden forget about her disappointment in the 2011 Boston Marathon when she missed the grand title by just two seconds.
Coming in right behind Linden, American runner Sarah Sellers finished second in today’s women’s race, with a time of 2:44:05. Canadian athlete Krista Duchene finished third, at 2:44:20.
The rest of the Top 10 was dominated by American women, as Rachel Hyland (2:44:29) ranked fourth, Nicole Demercurio (2:45:52) finished fifth in the women’s race, Kimi Reed (2:46:47) came in seventh, and Joanna Thompson (2:48:31) was the 10th to cross the 2018 Boston Marathon finish line.
U.S. athletes fared equally well in the men’s race, notes the Washington Post. Although the marathon was won by Japanese runner Yuki Kawauchi (2:10:46), Americans Shadrack Biwott (2:18:35) and Tyler Pennel (2:19:52) ranked in third and fourth, respectively.
At the end of the day, American men managed to snatch six of the Top 10 positions, with Andrew Bumbalough (2:19:52) coming in fifth, Scott Smith (2:21:47) finishing sixth, Elkanah Kibet (2:23:37) ranking eighth, and Daniel Vassallo (2:27:50) finishing last in the Top 10.
Although Flannagan didn’t win the Boston race, her past achievements secure her a prime spot among American women athletes. The elite runner has competed in eight major marathons and finished each one in the Top 10. Last year, Flanagan became the first American woman to win the New York Marathon since 1977.