Lin­den wins Bos­ton Marathon

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports -

BOS­TON – Af­ter slog­ging through just a few miles of icy rain and a near­gale head­wind that made her feel like she was run­ning in place, De­siree Lin­den de­cided she’d seen enough of the Bos­ton Marathon for an­other year.

“My hands were freez­ing, and there are times where you were just stood up by the wind. It was com­i­cal how slow you were go­ing, and how far you still had to go,” Lin­den said.

“At six miles I was think­ing, ‘No way, this is not my day,’ ” she said. “Then you break the tape and you’re like, ‘This is not what I ex­pected to­day.’ ”

A two-time Olympian and the 2011 Bos­ton Marathon run­ner-up, Lin­den de­cided to stick around, out­last­ing the weather and the rest of the field to win the race’s 122nd edi­tion on Mon­day in 2 hours, 39 min­utes, 54 sec­onds.

That was more than four min­utes bet­ter than sec­ond-place fin­isher Sarah Sell­ers but the slow­est time for a women’s win­ner in Bos­ton since 1978.

Yuki Kawauchi splashed through the pelt­ing rain, tem­per­a­tures in the mid-30s and wind that gusted as high as 32 mph to win the men’s race, pass­ing de­fend­ing cham­pion Ge­of­frey Kirui in Ken­more Square to earn Japan’s first Bos­ton ti­tle since 1987 and the $150,000 first prize.

Wear­ing a white wind­breaker that was drenched and bil­low­ing in the wind, Kirui slowed and stum­bled across the Co­p­ley Square fin­ish line in sec­ond, 2:25 back, fol­lowed by Shadrack Bi­wott and three other U.S. men. The win­ning time of 2:15:58 and was the slow­est since Jack Fultz over­came tem­per­a­tures in the high 90s to win the “Run for the Hoses” in 1976.

“For me, it’s the best con­di­tions pos­si­ble,” said Kawauchi, who com­peted in 12 marathons last year – six times the usual num­ber for an elite run­ner – and also works as a school ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Run­ners donned hats and ex­tra lay­ers, and the lead packs tried to draft off the me­dia truck to avoid the rain that was hit­ting them hor­i­zon­tally at times. Wheel­chair win­ners Mar­cel Hug of Switzer­land and Amer­i­can Tatyana Mc­Fad­den, both five-time champions, said they were un­able to see through the spray that spun off their wheels.

“It was just tough, it was so freez­ing,” Hug said through chat­ter­ing teeth as a vol­un­teer draped a sec­ond towel around his shoul­ders. “I’m just very glad that I made it.”

Mc­Fad­den said she wore two jack­ets, with plas­tic bags be­tween lay­ers to stay dry, and hand warm­ers against her chest. The wet roads made it treach­er­ous to turn and im­pos­si­ble to stop.

“I could start to feel my arms get­ting heavy just from all the rain soak­ing in,” she said.

“You can’t put your brakes on right away, so you had to be te­dious on the turns. I couldn’t even see be­cause the wind was so strong.”

On the fifth an­niver­sary of the fin­ish line ex­plo­sions that killed three and wounded hun­dreds more, Lin­den be­came the first U.S. woman to win since Lisa Larsen Wei­den­bach in 1985 – be­fore the race be­gan of­fer­ing prize money that lured the top in­ter­na­tional com­peti­tors to town.

Lin­den nearly ended the drought in 2011 when she was out­kicked down Boyl­ston Street and fin­ished sec­ond by 2 sec­onds.

This time she made the turn off of Here­ford with a lead of more than half of a mile.

“Prob­a­bly 2011 is what put the fear in me,” Lin­den said. “That sprint bat­tle is not su­per fun. It was nice to get it right down Boyl­ston this time, that’s for sure.”

A 34-year-old Cal­i­for­nia na­tive who lives in Michi­gan, Lin­den said she was so bro­ken by the weather that she wanted to drop out af­ter a cou­ple of miles but in­stead stuck around in case she could help one of her fel­low Amer­i­cans.

When four-time Olympian and reign­ing New York City Marathon cham­pion Sha­lane Flana­gan fell be­hind af­ter need­ing a bath­room break, Lin­den let her draft so she could catch up to the pack.

Later, she helped Molly Hud­dle re­con­nect with the group.

“And it turned out I was in third, and I thought, ‘Well, I prob­a­bly shouldn’t drop out,” said Lin­den, who also earned $150,000.

Sell­ers, who fin­ished 4:10 be­hind, is a full-time nurse who had to train be­fore or af­ter work – at 4 a.m. or 7 p.m.

She said didn’t be­lieve it when she was told she had fin­ished sec­ond, or that she earned $75,000.

“Yeah, I’m in shock about that,” she said. It was the sec­ond com­pet­i­tive marathon for Sell­ers, who was a dis­tance run­ner at We­ber State.

Canada’s Krista Duch­ene was third, with a to­tal of seven Amer­i­cans in the women’s top 10 and – for the sec­ond straight year – six in the men’s.

The East Africans who have dom­i­nated the pro­fes­sional era of the race had their worst per­for­mance in decades: Kirui was the only Kenyan in the top ten for the men’s race; de­fend­ing cham­pion Edna Ki­pla­gat, who was ninth, helped pre­vent a shutout in the distaff divi­sion.

“Some of the women I was pass­ing, I was in com­plete dis­be­lief,” Sell­ers said. “I have the ut­most re­spect for who they are as ath­letes and as peo­ple.”

Jimmy Golen

Bos­ton Marathon win­ners Yuki Kawauchi of Japan, left, and De­siree Lin­den of the United States hold up the tro­phy af­ter their wins Mon­day. WINSLOW TOWNSON/USA TO­DAY

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