BOSTON — Shalane Flanagan has had dreams of winning the Boston Marathon since she was a little girl growing up in Marblehead.
The 31-year-old didn’t quite get the fairy tale ending she was hoping for, as she crossed the finished line on Boylston Street in fourth place in the Women’s Elite race with a time of 2:27:08 in yesterday’s 117th Boston Marathon.
The two-time Olympian showed signs of disappointment after the race, as she hoped to become the first American woman to win Boston since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985. Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo was the women’s winner in 2:26:25.
“I don’t dream of fourth, I dream of winning and I was pretty bummed,” Flanagan said just minutes after crossing the finish line. “The hardest part about Boston is that the fans want you to win just as much you do. I could feel that they wanted it for me.
“I wanted to do it for everyone. I wanted to be part of history, but it wasn’t my day. I felt like my race was very tactically sound, holding my cards close to my chest and I’m just bummed I couldn’t pull it off.”
Hours after Flanagan crossed the finish line two bombs exploded near the end of the 26.2 mile course, injuring scores of runners, spectators and volunteers. Flanagan later Tweeted that she was alright, posting last night, “My family and I are safe. Thank you for your concerns. Devastating.”
Flanagan, who ran in her fourth career marathon yesterday, maintained a steady pace throughout the course. She stayed with the large pack of female runners, behind then front-runner, Ana Dulce Felix of Portugal.
A pack of four, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop, Ethiopia’s Meseret Hailu and Flanagan broke away from the larger group and overtook Felix’s lead around Coolidge Corner. Flanagan maintained her fourth place position throughout the final two and half miles of the race just behind Jeptoo, runner-up Hailu (2:26:58) and Cherop (2:27:01).
Her training partner and fellow American runner Kara Goucher finished nearly a minute after Flanagan in sixth place (2:28:11).
“I’m extremely happy that I fulfilled a lifelong goal of mine, but at the same time I dreamed about winning,” Flanagan said later during a press conference. “I followed my coach’s (Jerry Schumacher) plan. He said it was going to be tactical and it was. It was entertaining, made for a great race and drama. I just wish I had more in my legs to compete all the way to the finish.”
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).
Over the past few years, the former Marblehead High and University of North Carolina All-American has transitioned from a low-mileage (5K and 10K) runner to a full-out marathoner and is more than prepared for her next endeavor.
Flanagan felt a sense of pride running Boston, even calling it her home course as she grew up just 20 miles away on the North Shore. Already established as one of the greatest American female runners of all time, Flanagan had hoped to put her mark on the iconic race she grew up watching.
“I don’t know if it gets much better than people screaming your name,” she said. “I was trying to not let it get to me, even at the start. I had chills. I tried to stay super focused, but there were a few moments along the course which I will treasure forever. I wish I could just go out there and do it again and absorb even more.”
Last year’s temperatures reached 80 degrees on race day, but yesterday’s conditions were ideal for all runners with temperatures in the mid 50’s and low winds.
Though it wasn’t officially confirmed, Flanagan did make mention of possibly running Boston again next year.