Every Patriots’ Day, thousands of runners flock to Boston for the world’s oldest annual marathon. In less than two weeks, the city’s sidewalks will be filled with avid fans and spectators cheering on the competitors in this year’s 117th Boston Marathon.
What was once a local event, Marathon Monday has evolved over the years to now attract athletes from all over the world.
One local harrier, already well established as one of the greatest American female runners of all time, hopes to put her mark on the iconic race she grew up watching.
Shalane Flanagan has made an illustrious running career for herself; she’s a two-time Olympian and bronze medal winner in the 10,000 meters at the Beijing Olympics, and an American record holder many times over. But this will be her first-ever Boston — and only fourth marathon — when she toes the line in Hopkinton in 11 days.
And make no mistake about it: she’s running to win.
“It’s one of these moments that I’ve thought about for over 20 years now,” Flanagan, speaking by phone from Colorado, said of the big day. “I’m slightly terrified and excited at the same time ... and then the other part of me just wants to throw a big party.”
With all the success she’s had in her career, the 31-year-old Flanagan is looking to own this course and become the first American woman winner since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985. Her biggest competition will come from elite marathoners Ethiopians Mamitu Daska, Meseret Hailu Debele and Alemita Abera Begna; Kenyans Rita Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop; Madai Perez of Mexico; and Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko of the Ukraine.
Now living in Portland, Ore. with her husband Steve, Flanagan made her marathon debut in New York City in November 2010, taking second place. She finished 10th in the Summer Olympics last summer at the London Games and won the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon in Houston a little over a year ago (recording a personal best time of 2:25.38).