Shalane Flanagan Was So Out of It She Thought She Might Be Winning Herself, Wants to Help Gwen Jorgensen Make Olympic Team

April 16, 2018

Editor’s note: We put this in our article recapping the women’s race, but it was well after we first published it so we are making it its own article.

Shalane Flanagan grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts, dreaming of winning the Boston Marathon, but at least for another year she’ll have to be content with being just the New York City Marathon champion instead, as it was fellow American Des Linden who stole the show and broke the American woman’s 33-year drought in Boston.

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Linden winning was hard to foresee early in the race, around mile 6, when Flanagan said Linden turned to her and said, “Hey it’s not going to be my day. I think I’m going to drop out.” Flanagan said she was so shocked she put her arm on Des and asked ‘Are you ok?’ thinking Des must have a severe injury. Des replied, “No I’m fine (injury wise). If there is anything I can do to help let me know.”

Not a good day when this is the most famous photo of you on the day Not a good day when this is the most famous photo of you on the day

When Flanagan had to pee later in the race, and the women’s lead pack was still running slow, she asked Des if she thought it was a good idea to leave the course and take care of business (instead of doing it on the run). Des told her to go ahead and waited a bit for Flanagan to catch up. Then when Des dropped behind Flanagan soon after, Flanagan thought she might be dropping out. But soon Des came back by Flanagan and then was soon heading after the race leader Daska. Flanagan thought Des was being a “sacrificial lamb” to bridge the gap for fellow American Molly Huddle, and Des afterwards said that was her initial intention. But next thing Flanagan knew Des was pulling away on her own.

“I thought ‘Man she’s doing a lot of good work here. This is amazing.’ And then I saw her just keep going. I think that momentum of helping someone else and maybe not investing so much in how she’s feeling, maybe that gave her that little lift she needed. I’ve always said this. Des is built for this course. It’s pretty incredible (she won),” said Flanagan.

“I am really happy for Des. She went from talking about dropping out to motoring (to the win).”

Flanagan’s own race did not go nearly as well.

“That was really hard. I’m the most sore I’ve ever been for 6:30 mile pace. I’m really bummed right now.  I realized 6 miles in I was going to be really cold. My teeth were already starting to chatter,” she said.

Flanagan in Boston Flanagan in Boston

Flanagan said she was suffering so much later in the race she started wondering if she was actually winning the race as the fans were really cheering for her. “At one point I was so delirious I thought, ‘Am I winning’? I wasn’t sure who was dropping out,” she said.

“It was a very unsatisfying race. I trained three months really hard to have a really great showing. I don’t know what to think about it. It was all I had, but a very unsatisfying feeling,” she added noting she thought she was in PR shape.

Flanagan wasn’t sure what is next for her. When asked what motivated her more going to defend her NYC title or chasing a fast time in a fast marathoner, she said, “Neither actually. The only thing that really motivates me now is to try and train and help the other two women my Bowerman track team (World Championship bronze medallist Amy Cragg and Olympic triathlon champ Gwen Jorgensen) make the next Olympic team. I may take a little break and assess what I want to do next, because the training is hard.”

We asked Flanagan how good she thought Jorgensen could be in the marathon. “I don’t know what she is capable of.  We know she is a good ahlete, but what’s her ceiling? (We don’t know. She’s had a great support system). Now it’s whether we can keep her healthy enough to put in the big miles. I think that’s what it’s going to take is big miles to make the team.  It would be a huge accomplishment if we got her on the Olympic team. I know she’s dreaming of gold but I know we would be stoked if we could make her an Olympian in the marathon.”

Shalane Flanagan and Desi Linden Hug After Race

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