Well, that was a first.
Okay, maybe not a first. But Shalane Flanagan, on an overcast Sunday in New York City, accomplished something that hadn’t been done in 40 years. She became the first American woman to win the NYC Marathon since 1977. After 4 decades, the well of female, American runners had nearly run dry, but Shalane Flanagan used the last drop of motivation and determination to will her way to victory.
Flanagan endured a special set of circumstances to arrive at this moment. An iliac (pelvic) fracture, that kept her from running her hometown, Boston Marathon in April, may have been a blessing in disguise. While Flanagan is a professional runner, she is not strictly a marathon runner. She specializes in 10,000 meter events, as she earned a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics (Beijing). While the Boston Marathon holds a special place in her heart, recuperating rather than competing was likely the best thing to happen to her career.
At age 36, Flanagan is exiting her prime. Professional runners typically peak between 25 and 35. The 2017 NYC Marathon was only Flanagan’s 5th official marathon, her last in Rio at the 2016 Olympics (she placed 6th). The improbable nature surrounding Shalane Flanagan crossing the finish line before anyone else was fulfilled Sunday, November 5th, 2017.
Her time: 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 53 seconds.
Her closest competitor: 3-time defending NYC Marathon Champion, Mary Keitany, crossed the finish line a full minute and 1 second later.
And in that moment of elation, an entire nation rejoiced alongside Flanagan. An American flag draped across her back represented the culmination of 40 years of 2nd places, and bronze medals, and oh so close but yet so fars. Not since Miki Gorman, in 1977, has a woman won the NYC Marathon. An event that has long since been dominated by Kenyan women, winners of 8 of the last 15, saw a changing of the guards this past Sunday. With 3 miles remaining, Flanagan passed Keitany, and never looked back.
Sunday was USA’s day. New York’s day. Shalane’s day.
Did you watch, or go to the NYC Marathon?? If you did, tell me about it in the comment section below.
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