Desi Linden Wins The Boston Marathon, Ends 33-Year American Title Drought

Desi Linden won the Boston Marathon today in 2:39.54, effectively ending the 33-year title drought for American women. The last U.S. woman to win the country's oldest marathon was Lisa Rainsberger, who claimed the Boston crown in 1985.

The conditions in Boston were among the worst in race history—the temperature at race time was 38 degrees (31 degrees with the windchill) with heavy rain and 10mph gusts.

"I don't have the right words," Linden said immediately after the race on the television broadcast. "I'm thrilled; it's supposed to be hard and I just want to thank John Hancock and the B.A.A. for giving me a chance year after year and believing in me when I didn't believe in myself."



The Michigan native, who represents the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, is known as a gritty runner and was favored by some when the weather forecast turned south. But still, she was far from the favorite in a deep field that included Shalane Flanagan, the 2017 New York City Marathon champion; Jordan Hasay, the second-fastest women's marathoner in U.S. history who withdrew from the race last night; Molly Huddle, a 26-time U.S. champion and American record holder in the half marathon; as well as an international field led by defending champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya and including course record holder Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia.

Linden did not take the lead until mile 22, but from there it was no contest as she ultimately won by five minutes over Sarah Sellers of the United States and Krista Duchene of Canada, who ran 2:44:04 and 2:44:20, respectively, for second and third.

The first half of the race saw various lead changes as the athletes actively did not want to lead and tried to draft off each other. The women did not run under six minutes for a mile split until the fourth mile when Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia led the group through in 5:51, unofficially.

Fellow Ethiopians Deba and Aselefech Mergia also spent significant time at the front during the first half of the race. 

Click here for mile-by-mile play-by-play of the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Linden said that around Mile 6, she had thoughts of dropping out of the race and communicated this to Flanagan, saying also that she would help her fellow American out if needed. 

Linden talks about when she told Shalane Flanagan she might drop out:

null


Flanagan took her up on that a few miles later, when she pulled off the course during Mile 11 to use the port-a-potty. 



Linden and another American, Serena Burla, slowed their pace and dropped back from the leaders; when Flanagan reappeared from the bathroom, Linden ran with the reigning NYC Marathon champion to make their way back up to the front. Burla--the only athlete in the front to wear a crop top and racing buns (most everyone else wore jackets)--stopped at an aid station, grabbed a plastic bag and wrapped it around her body as a makeshift poncho.

The lagging pace up front made it possible for Linden and Flanagan to rejoin the scrum fairly easily; Kiplagat led the group through mile 12 in 1:13:11 with a 12th-mile split of 6:13. 

But the half marathon mark is where Daska chose to make her move: She split 1:19:41 and, within the next mile, put a 14-second gap on the field. She lengthened the lead to an excess of 20 seconds over the next few miles, as Gladys Chesir of Kenya, Kiplagat, and Linden formed a chase pack and the other top Americans, Huddle and Flanagan, fell back. 

By mile 17, Chesir and Linden dropped Kiplagat and held steady in their quest to cut into Daska's 20-second lead.

It was Heartbreak Hill just after 20 miles where Daska's reign would end. Before the hill, Daska led Chesir by 17 seconds; Linden was another eight seconds behind Chesir. 



In a matter of moments just before 35K, Chesir passed a now visibly fatigued Daska but was almost immediately surpassed by a surging Linden.



Linden did not run under six minutes again for the rest of the race—her finish time was the slowest winning time in 40 years—but it didn't matter, as Chesir and Daska had no answer to the surge and, in fact, neither woman would finish the race. 

By the time she rounded the curve to Boyleston Street, it was clear that on her sixth try, Linden had won the Boston Marathon.



Flanagan finished seventh in 2:46:31, Kiplagat was ninth in 2:47:14, and Huddle placed 14th in 2:50:28.

Geoffrey Kamworor Smashes Half Marathon WR With 58:01

Three-time half marathon world champion Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya is the new half marathon world record holder after the 26-year-old smashed the old mark by 17 seconds on Sunday with his 58:01 run in Copenhagen, Denmark.

A Perfect Storm: The Story Behind Woody Kincaid's Stunning 12:58

As an intimate crowd of familiar faces hovered around the Michael Johnson Track on Nike’s campus in Beaverton, Oregon, on Tuesday night, Woody Kincaid faced an ultimatum. 

Former NCAA 800m Champ Emmanuel Korir To Attempt 400m/800m Double

Today Kenya announced their World Championship team for Doha later this month. One notable highlight was the selection of former NCAA 800m champion Emmanuel Korir in the 400m dash. Korir qualified for the 800m team after finishing second at the Kenyan trials, he was also selected to the 400m team due to his 44.55 performance at Kenya’s African Games trials back in June.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Will A World Record Be Broken At The World Championships?

Last month, Lincoln diagnosed the chase for world records across track and field. In his post, he argued that there was least a semblance of a chance for broken records in 11 different events. Now, two weeks before the World Championships, I updated that forecast heading into the final meet of the season. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

2019 FloTrack TV Guide

Searching for that perfect post-long-run-and-chill content? 

Christian Coleman Responds To USADA Dropping Case: 'I Think It's A Shame'

Christian Coleman spoke publicly for the first time since the U.S. Anti Doping Agency dropped their case against the sprint star last week. 

Bowerman Trio Of Kincaid, Lomong And Centro Torch U.S. 5K Record Book

A trio of Bowerman Track Club athletes on Tuesday collaborated on one of the greatest 5,000m races in American history, as Woody Kincaid (12:58.10), Lopez Lomong (13:00.13) and Matthew Centrowitz (13:00.39) each joined the top 10 all-time U.S. list.

The Diamond League's 10 Richest Athletes Of 2019

The 2019 IAAF Diamond League season wrapped up last Friday in Brussels with the second of two finals awarding 16 more athletes the title of Diamond League champion. The Zurich meeting on Aug. 29 took care of the first 16 events.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Vin Lananna Hired As Virginia Director Of Track And Field And Cross Country

One of the most recognizable coaches and administrators in American track and field is heading east to take on his latest project: Vin Lananna, the former head coach at Oregon, president of TrackTown USA and USATF, among other titles, was announced on Monday as the new director of track and field and cross country/associate athletics director for administration at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Sifan Hassan's World Championships Choice Could Define Her Career

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

In sweeping the 1500m and 5,000m Diamond League titles in 2019, the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan, the queen of range, is finally starting to reap the rewards of her one-of-a-kind skill set. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In