By Meaghan Cahill ’20
While the race may have seemed more like a swim meet than a running event, Desiree Linden shocked thousands—and herself— when she became the first American female runner in 33 years to win the historic Boston Marathon.
“It was such a miserable day…I was freezing and my muscles were tight, and I was like ‘This is not my day.’ So I did kind of toy around with the idea of stepping off,” Linden confessed after her win.
That notion of wanting to back out of the race propelled Linden’s unusual actions of following fan-favorite Shalane Flanagan off-course for a bathroom break. At that point, Linden confessed she was “happy to run through the wind for [Flanagan] and just kind of be a block [to the wind].”
It was during that break that Linden was re-inspired by Flanagan to go out and win the race. She commented, “There was just so much pride on the American side this year. We wanted it so bad. Thirty-three years since an American winner, and I felt like there was some team camaraderie out there.”
Near the end of the race, Linden pulled ahead of Flanagan and after 2 hours, 39 minutes, and 54 seconds of running, the two-time Olympian crossed the finish line on Boylston Street.
On her historic finish, Linden commented, “It’s the moment you dream of during the tough days when you don’t wanna go out and run, when you’re a little kid and you’re getting into the sport, and you turn [on] the TV, and you see the Boston Marathon. You dream about breaking that tape. It was the culmination of years of hard work, and years of dreaming, and years of never giving up.”
Linden was not the only American runner who surprised viewers on Patriot’s Day. After years of being beaten out by female runners from Kenya and Ethiopia, Americans placed first through seventh in the race as followed: Linden (1st), Sarah Sellers (2nd), Krista DuChene (3rd), Rachel Hyland (4th), Jessica Chichester (5th), Nicole Dimercurio (6th), and Flanagan (7th).
However, it was not the fact that the Americans swept the top spots that was the most surprising, but rather the fact that aside from Linden and Flanagan, these runners were mostly unknown. No one predicted them to win. While both Linden and Flanagan are Olympians and well-known for their running success, Sellers and DuChene are more commonly known as being a nurse anesthetist and a mother of three, respectively.
Sellers, much like Linden, surprised herself with her second place finish, stating after the race, “Some of the women I was passing, it was just complete disbelief. I look up to them extremely and in no way do I consider myself on their level at all.” She was in so much disbelief over her placing that she had to question officials to make sure they were positive they were looking at the right division. And while this year’s marathon has Sellers determined to “run another marathon…in better weather,” Flanagan has announced that she “thinks this was [her] last Boston Marathon,” admitting that “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 this was it.”
Regardless of the unfortunate weather conditions, the runners of the Boston Marathon never ceased in their fight to the finish. And the women running this year were able to make it more memorable due to their achievements rather than the horrendous rain and wind.