Shalane Flanagan Retires From Professional Running

Shalane Flanagan Retires From Professional Running

One of the greatest distance runners in U.S. history has announced her retirement.

Oct 21, 2019 by Lincoln Shryack

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One of the greatest distance runners in American history has retired: Four-time Olympian and 2017 New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan announced on Monday that her incredible professional running career is over after 15 years.

Flanagan, 38, will now officially step into a full-time coaching role with the Bowerman Track Club alongside head coach Jerry Schumacher.

Like most runners who competed for as long as she did, Flanagan dealt with numerous injuries in her career. Most recently, a damaged right patellar tendon required reconstructive knee surgery that kept her away from running for months. Her retirement comes just four months before the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

“I’ve broken bones, torn tendons, and lost too many toenails to count. I've experienced otherworldly highs and abysmal lows. I've loved (and learned from) it all,” she wrote.

“Over the last 15 years I found out what I was capable of, and it was more than I ever dreamed possible.”

Flanagan excelled at the highest level of international competition in every phase of her career, from the track to cross country and ultimately the marathon. 

At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Flanagan won the bronze medal in the 10,000m in a then 30:22 American record. The medal was subsequently upgraded to silver as a result of a doping infraction by another competitor.

In 2011, she won World Cross Country bronze in Spain. She remains the last American, man or woman, to medal at World Cross.

Her career-defining victory came six years later at the 2017 NYC Marathon. One of the bastions of U.S. women’s marathoning taking a giant leap forward in the last decade, Flanagan became the first American woman in 40 years to win the event. 

Flanagan made no secret of how badly she wanted to win the Boston Marathon, her hometown race that she competed in four times. A Boston victory will go down as the one major achievement that eluded Flanagan in an otherwise sterling career. But her impact was still felt in 2018 when Des Linden became the first American since 1985 to win on Patriots' Day. Linden credited her fellow American with helping to pave the way for the U.S. to win at the highest level.

Watch FloTrack's two-part documentary on Shalane Flanagan