Glacial temperatures, forceful winds and gushing rain did not deter Boston pride that circulated from Hopkinton, MA to Boylston Street at the 122nd Boston Marathon. After debating on backing out of the race to the biting weather conditions, American winner Desiree Linden took the lead after the twenty-second mile and didn’t look back, as she told reporters at the finish line.
FINALLY!!!! An American woman! pic.twitter.com/93rxQicHmL
— Alexa Gagosz (@alexanoelle13) April 16, 2018
The two-time Olympian and Michigan native, Linden, who lost the Marathon in 2011 by a mere two seconds behind a man, crossed the finish line at 12:11 p.m. and became the first American woman in 33 years to win the Boston Marathon.
After 2 hours 39 minutes and 54 seconds, the elite runner overcame grueling conditions and had captured the very dream of an American woman winning the Boston Marathon again, after a decades-long drought.
As Linden passed by fans on Boylston Street close to the finish line, a woman screamed “I see her!” as 7-year-old “Maddie” of North Andover, MA, who was held by her mother, said, “I could do it too, right?”
As Linden rounded Coolidge Corner, the announcer told spectators on Boylston Street that her “face of concentration was unmatched.”
“Honestly, at mile 2, 3, 4, I didn’t feel like I was going to make it to the finish line,” Linden told reporters after Marathon officials and Governor Charlie Baker bestowed the gold-dipped crown on her head.
Linden had slowed after the sixth mile to wait for fellow elite and Nike-sponsored runner Shalane Flanagan for a bathroom break and told reporters that she told Flanagan she “might not make it.” According to Linden, it was there that she told Flanagan that she would help her with the rest of the race.
Linden, though, was not the only competitor who speculated on dropping out of the race. This year’s marathon had nearly 3,000 runners drop out prior to the race. Of the 26,948 who did start the race, 1,202 did not finish, according to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA).
Five of the six first-place runners were women in this year’s Boston Marathon.
With start-line temperatures in the high 30s the day of the Marathon, numerous elite athletes dropped out, unknown runners such as No. 2 and full-time nurse from Arizona Sarah Sellers, and the finishing times were the slowest of 40 years. Linden had told reporters at the finish line that she didn’t feel “her best” at the beginning of the race, and later told ESPN in an interview that she “found another gear” to fulfill her long-awaited goal of winning a major marathon after an already close call seven years prior.
According to Linden, she felt “heavy legs” throughout the first few miles, tightness in her arches and her hands failed to catch the hydration bottles where she would spill water out of her hands and onto the front of her jacket which would make her colder. In addition, the racing began earlier than she expected, as she told an ESPN reporter.
“I thought everyone was just going to slog together for a really long time,” said Linden.
Chris Fama of WBZ described Linden as “Emerging through the fog, like a ship off of Cape Cod as she makes her way to the finish” in his report that day.
Fellow woman marathoner Flanagan had completed the Marathon in sixth place after being named one of the top contenders of the Marathon with predictions of her placing first. Prior to the race, Flanagan had announced that this would be her last Boston Marathon and wanted her last, as a Massachusetts native, to “be memorable.” After clinching seventh and undesirable weather conditions, the four-time Olympian told Runner’s World this week that she isn’t changing her mind.
“I don’t know what’s next, but for sure I think this was my last Boston Marathon,” said Flanagan in an interview this week with Runner’s World. “I think that’s it. This course is really hard. The conditions are really hard. And I’m not averse to hard things, but I think I’m good with Boston. I think that was it.”
Flanagan said that she would likely run another marathon, though, not Boston, even though she was “unsatisfied” with her own performance.
However, Linden waiting for Flanagan during the sixth mile was not the first display of support these women marathoners had shown each other. After Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in November, she had earned both her first major marathon win and the first win for an American woman in that NYC race since 1977. Linden had tweeted: “In tears. Thank you @ShalaneFlanagan for giving us something to believe in. Congratulations!”
Flanagan’s response to Linden: “Now it’s your turn.”