BOSTON — Shalane Flanagan might not have crossed the finish line as the victor at yesterday’s 118th Boston Marathon.
But she did run the race of her career as the beloved hometown favorite.
Flanagan finished in 2:22.02, shaving more than three-and-a-half minutes off of her previous personal best marathon time of 2:25.38. That earned the Marblehead native a seventh place finish overall in her second time running Boston, beating last year’s time (2:27.08) by more than five minutes.
Flanagan’s coach, Jerry Schumacher, told her that if she ran a 2:22 that she’d have a shot at winning. History would tell you that in previous years, that would’ve been true. However, the group of runners Flanagan was going head-to-head with were just as hungry to break away from the pack as she was.
“I ran everything I had out of myself, right until the tape. My coach gave me a primer and said ‘I truly believe you can run 2:22,’ and he nailed it,” said Flanagan in her post Marathon press conference. “I said ‘Are you sure? Do you really think I can run that in Boston?’ That’s a three-minute PR and Boston is hard. It’s not a pancake course; it’s challenging.”
The puzzle pieces didn’t fall exactly how Flanagan would’ve hoped after leading for each of the first 19 miles.
At the Newton hills, Ethopia’s Buzunesh Deba and Mare Dibaba passed Flanagan and traded off as the front-runners before Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo surged ahead in the final four miles of the course. Jeptoo took her second consecutive Boston Marathon title, and third overall, setting a course record of 2:18.57.
Flanagan was the top American woman to finish, followed by Michigan’s Desiree Linden (2:23.41), who came in 10th.
As a little girl, Flanagan cheered on her dad Steve from the marathon crowd on Boylston Street. As a professional runner and three-time Olympian, Flanagan’s dream is to become the first American woman since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985 to win the Boston Marathon.