Brutal conditions? A nasty head wind? A chilly rain? None of those things stopped Desiree Linden, who became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon since 1985, streaking away from the field as American women nabbed seven of the top 10 spots at the finish line. On the men’s side, American runners took six of the top 10 spots.
Linden, a 34-year-old from California who now lives in Michigan, overcame the heartbreak of 2011, when she finished second in the marathon by two seconds, and won in an unofficial time of 2:39:54.
The veteran long-distance runner who competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, where she placed seventh, finished ahead of American Sarah Sellers, a virtually unknown runner who was second in 2:44:05. That marked the first 1-2 finish in Boston by American women since 1979, but American women weren’t finished. Rachel Hyland was fourth in 2:44:29; Nicole Demercurio was fifth in 2:45:52; Shalane Flanagan, helped along the way by Linden, was sixth in 2:46:31; Kimi Reed was seventh in 2:46:47; and Joanna Thompson was 10th in 2:48:31. Canada’s Krista Duchene was third in 2:44:20. (All times are, as yet, unofficial by the Boston Athletic Association.)
“I love this city, this race, this course,” Linden said in a TV interview. “It’s storybook.”
Linden paused along the way to help Flanagan, the 2017 New York City Marathon champion who had to make a bathroom stop along the way, and was feeling so rotten that she wasn’t sure she wouldn’t just drop out of the race. “Honestly, at mile 2, three four, I didn’t feel like I was even going to make it to the finish line, she told NBC Sports after the race. “I told [Flanagan] during the race, ‘If there’s anything I can do to help you out, let me know, because I might just drop out.’ When you work together, you never know what’s going to happen. Helping her helped me and I kinda got my legs back from there.”
In a prerace interview, Linden told Boston.com before the race that she likes to bide her time until around the 30K mark for the marathon, then make a move. That’s just what she did Monday. “It’s kind of like the blinders go up at that point,” she said.
The last women’s winner in Boston? Lisa Larsen Rainsberger (then competing as Lisa Larsen Weidenbach).
The American women weren’t the only U.S. athletes performing well. Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi was the men’s winner in 2:10:46, but Americans Shadrack Biwott (2:18:35) and Tyler Pennel (2:19:52) were third and fourth, respectively, and American men went on to take six of the top 10 spots. Andrew Bumbalough was fifth in 2:19:52; Scott Smith sixth in 2:21:47; Elkanah Kibet eighth 2:23:37; and Daniel Vassallo was 10th in 2:27:50.
It was a nasty day for a race, with officials announcing that the temperature of 38 degrees at the 8:40 a.m. Eastern time start in Hopkinton, Mass., made this the coldest start in 30 years.
That meant that runners were coping with a different kind of misery this year, after last year’s 80-degree temperatures. Runners may love temperatures in the 40s, but not when rain and a blustery wind is added. Just look at Galen Rupp, who finished second in the elite men’s field last year. He had a unique approach Monday to staying warm, bundling up like he was about to rob a bank.
Officials coped with the weather by giving runners two bibs, one for their outer garments or ponchos. Those bibs, though, have just the numbers on them. The bib with runners’ names are underneath a layer or two. (In case you were wondering why there were bibs with names and numbers.)
Shortly before 11 a.m., the first competitor crossed the finish line. Marcel Eric Hug of Switzerland won his fourth consecutive title in the men’s push rim wheelchair race in an unofficial time of 1:41:49, the slowest time in 31 years. Tatyana McFadden won her fifth women’s push rim wheelchair title and her 22nd overall in world marathon majors, the most of any women’s wheelchair athlete. McFadden, who is from Clarksville, Md., finished in an unofficial time of 2:04:39, the slowest in 30 years.
The man who captured the explosions looks back
Five years later, Steve Silva recalled being at the finish line and shooting video of the explosions that was shared globally. “It wasn’t a bone-rattling explosion like you might imagine — more of a muffled thud with a large plume of smoke that ran straight up the mid-level buildings on that block of Boylston,” Silva writes.
“My first thought was that it might have been a fireworks celebration that perhaps went awry for the Hoyts’s finish. But 13 seconds later, the second explosion went off just over a block away. ‘We’ve had an attack,’ I said into the camera’s microphone.
“In a split-second, I went from sports video producer to accidental war correspondent.”
Read more about his experience here.
Looking for a specific runner or time?
The field of 29,960 athletes included runners from all 50 states (4,921 from Massachusetts) and 109 countries. You can find out how they did searching the field at BAA.org.
Security restrictions …
Security for the 26.2-mile race has been tightened since 2013 and spectators, who are expected to number more than 50,000, were reminded of what is and is not allowed, particularly close to the finish line.
At least five transgender runners entered the race
Marathon organizers are not concerned about gender boundaries, saying that transgender runners can compete using the gender they qualified with.
At least five openly transgender women signed up to run the race, and a BAA official told Runner’s World that race officials and volunteers would compare gender identity on the government-issued ID required to pick up a bib number with what’s on runners’ entries.
If there’s no match, a BAA spokesperson told Runner’s World that it would be addressed “in a manner intended to be fair to all concerned, with a strong emphasis on inclusion.”
“We take people at their word. We register people as they specify themselves to be,” Tom Grilk, who heads up the Boston Athletic Association, told the Associated Press. “Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we’d rather not add to that burden.”
Play ball? Not Monday.
Weather forced postponement of that other Patriots Day tradition, the 11 a.m. Red Sox game against the Orioles at Fenway Park, for the first time since 1984.
Japanese runners once dominated the Boston Marathon
There was a time when runners from Japan ruled the Boston Marathon and The Post’s Kathryn Tolbert takes a look back at the slurs and prejudice they endured years after the end of World War II. Read the story in Retropolis.
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