Improbable Boston Winners Des Linden and Yuki Kawauchi Show Why We Run the Race

April 16, 2018

BOSTON — Fortunately, you always have to run the race to determine its winners.

Otherwise, Des Linden and Yuki Kawauchi would not be the winners of the 2018 Boston Marathon as to call their wins upsets would be an understatement. (0.4% of people in the Running Warehouse Prediction Contest picked Kawauchi to win, while 2.3% picked Linden).

The prolific marathoner Kawauchi said it best at the post-race press conference. “I think there was probably not a single person in Boston who thought I would win this today and really in the marathon you really never know what is going to happen.”

If you asked Linden herself what was going to happen early on in the race, she would have told you she was going to drop out as that’s what she told fellow American Shalane Flanagan.

“Early on the race I was feeling horrible and I nudged her (Flanagan) and said ‘I might drop out. There’s a good chance I’m going to drop out today. If you need something…let me know,'” said Linden at the post-race press conference.

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Linden then shifted her focus to helping her fellow Americans. When Shalane Flanagan had to take a porta potty break, Linden slowed down to offer encouragement. Then when Mamitu Daska broke away from the women’s pack, Linden went to the front of the chase pack to help the other main American contender Molly Huddle.

“[I thought], well I should probably help Molly reconnect to [the leaders]. And then I looked back and I was in third (place) and I thought ‘Well I probably shouldn’t drop out [now],’” Linden said to laughter at the post-race press conference.

“Honestly I felt miserable, but sometimes when you pick it up and forget about how you’re feeling and just engage for a little bit you can turn everything around,” she said.

Soon she did turn it around, as although she was not running that fast, she was running faster than everyone else and leading the Boston Marathon.

Fear took over for Linden, as she still didn’t expect to win. “I was running totally afraid. I knew the conditions were bad but I was running really slow and I thought, ‘I’m going to get chewed up.’”

Linden and Kawauchi stay focused on finish

One thing Linden never did was look back. She tried to gauge her lead by the reaction of the crowd. She had no idea her lead swelled to a couple of minutes, but said that was a good thing.

“I definitely would have slowed down [if I knew I had a big lead]. I felt awful. I was [thinking] ‘this is going to be embarrassing (when I get caught).’ I was just running as hard as I could. If I had known I had that gap, for sure I would have slowed down and probably have been caught.”

Linden had battled for the win in a sprint finish in 2011 in Boston and came up just short. Not this time.

“It was nice to get it right down Boylston this time for sure,” she said.

Kawauchi also was focused on the finish saying afterwards he wasn’t sure he was leading until he was directed to the right where the finishing tape was.

While hardly anyone expected Linden or Kawauchi to triumph in Boston, they both had experience racing in terrible weather and it was in each other’s home countries. Kawauchi had won a marathon New Year’s Day in Massachusetts in 1-degree temps (-13C) and Linden had run a 10k in miserable weather in Japan. Linden thought at the time she couldn’t run a step further in such conditions.

She was glad she did on Monday in Boston.

“This is hands down the biggest day in my running career and if it hadn’t been difficult I don’t think it would mean as much. I was glad we were able to put on a show and I hope people enjoyed it.”

They most definitely did.

Desi Linden Wins 2018 Boston Marathon Des Linden Wins 2018 Boston Marathon


More quotes from press conference:

Linden on what she was thinking during national anthem:  “[I was thinking] it was kind of hilarious how it worked out. Even when I got into the lead I [thought] this is going to go horribly wrong. I’m going to blow up. When you think you’re going to drop out you don’t do the right things.  I know I’m slowing down a ton right now. When am I going to get chewed up and spit out the back and then I can drop out…”

On the support of the BAA and John Hancock over the years: “In 2007 (her first Boston), no one believed I would be sitting here but the BAA treated us like rock stars. That made me want to be a marathoner. Along the way we have moments where I didn’t know if I would come back from the femur fracture (which caused Linden to drop out of the 2012 Olympic marathon).”

Kawauchi on why he races so much: “I love to run races. Races gives me the opportunity to travel and in a more practical sense because I train by myself if I didn’t put in a lot of races I wouldn’t be able to put in the same quality.”

Yuki Kawauchi Wins the 2018 Boston Marathon Yuki Kawauchi Wins the 2018 Boston Marathon

On being the first Japanese winner in 31 years: Kawuachi noted that Toshihiko Seko last won Boston in 1987 which was the year he was born. “I couldn’t help by feel the hand of fate in this.”

Post race presser:

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