Bill Rodgers Celebrates Shalane Flanagan's Historic NYC Win!

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Flanagan-Daska-Keitany-NYC17.JPGThe battle of five boroughs, photo by PhotoRun.net

Jeff Benjamin reached out to 4 time NYC champ Bill Rodgers on the importance of Shalane Flanagan's victory, an event not scene by an American woman since 1977. Forty years ago, Bill Rodgers was the male winner, and Miki Gorman was the woman's winner.

Bill Rodgers Celebrates Shalane Flannigan's Historic NYC Win by Jeff Benjamin- 11/6


Bill Rodgers' phone call came literally moments after the women's Winner crossed Sunday's NYC Marathon finish line. "Jeff it's Shalane!!", said Rodgers excitedly. "This is so Great!"

"So Great!" (or "F*!?k Yeah!) were feelings most certainly shared not only by Race Victor Shalane Flanagan but also by the millions of viewers, fans, supporters as well as proud Americans this past Sunday. Flanagan's victory, made all the more marvelous when coupled with the terrible tragic events in NYC earlier in the week, brought about a breath of fresh air and pride which transcended the running world throughout the country. While this potential watershed moment was no doubt enjoyed by all of us, perhaps it's Bill Rodgers who takes the most solace. After all, Rodgers was the last NYC Marathon victor to stand on Central Park's Winners podium with the last American Women's Winner Miki Gorman 40 Years ago in 1977. "Wow, I wish Miki had been around to see it," said Rodgers. "She would have been so Proud.

But, Flanagan's Win means more than that to "Boston Billy". The 4-time Boston and NYC Marathon Champion has had a longtime association with Flanagan going back over 30 years, with their lives crisscrossing with others intertwined as well. Both are from the Boston area, with Flanagan's Parents having connections throughout the Massachusetts Running world.

"This past Sunday morning, my brother Charlie (Chaz) and I did a 6-Mile run in Central park before the Marathon start," Said Rodgers, who's awaiting to turn 70 this upcoming December and challenge competitors on the roads in a new age group. "My brother and I co-owned the 1st running retail-store in Boston, the "Bill Rodgers Running Center for 35 years." Rodgers has spoken in the past about how valuable his brother was in the day-to-day store Charlie ran the store as Bill ran his 150-mile weeks, becoming the best Marathoner in the world. "He always met the shoe company reps back then," said Rodgers.

As they were running, Bill and Charlie met one of their former shoe reps.

image1.jpegBill Rodgers winning shoes, ASICS (Onitsuka Tiger back then), photo by Jeff Benjamin


"We saw our former Asics shoe rep Steve Flanagan!", said Rodgers of Shalene's Dad. "He was with his family to be supportive of Shalane's race efforts that morning and he said how his family was hoping that Shalane can do something really special today...We told him we'd be cheering her on!"

Back at the hotel room Rodgers and Chaz watched the race unfold as the NIKE Bowerman athlete threw in a surge, taking the lead a few miles from the finish. "Charlie recounted how Shalene had come to our store as a high schooler and signed a cotton running glove," Said Rodgers. "Charlie told her she may be an Olympian one day."

Chaz's prophecy for Flanagan went further than the Olympics. "To watch Shalene's Victory was sweet!," Said Rodgers. "I think this victory by Shalane was the best since Alberto Salazar's Victories in New York the 80s and since Patti Dillon took Second to Greta Waitz in '81, becoming the 1st american woman to crack the 2hour 30 minute barrier."

Rodgers then talked of his unwavering support of American Distance Runners. "For 40 years altitude-born athletes have wreaked havoc on the sea level born athletes in the distance running world," said Rodgers. "Only the most committed athletes like Galen Rupp, Jordan Hasay, Amy Cragg, Lynn Jennings,and Shalane have been able to stay the course...I hope these athletes encourage other sea level born athletes to keep aiming high!"
"I hope w can continue to support our american athletes!"

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