Originally posted November 5, 2017
Reposted January 1, 2018
Shalane Flanagan’s win in NYC Marathon is one of the two most important events to happen in US athletics in 2017. The other was the 1,2 in the women’s steeple by Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs. Shalane used all the experiences of her career to win the 2017 NYC Marathon. It is a career defining moment, and our November 2017 Best Moment.
Shalane Flanagan’s entire life had been building up to this day. In her first marathon, Shalane took second, in 2:28:40 in a tactical piece of running that impressed many in 2010. That the race was run at the 2010 NYC Marathon is ironic. She would not return to the marathon in five boroughs until 2017. Perhaps it was, all along about improving the performance, but giving the gods of running their due.
The loneliness of a long distance runner is a fine novella (by Alan Sillitoe) and a masterful movie. It should be read, then viewed, and in that order, mine you, by all runners.
Part of what gives Shalane Flanagan her success is her edge. She does not tolerate fools and she calls a spade a spade, and b.s., well, a pile of manure. Those exacting standards, and that need for winning, are also what drive her.
I recall observing Shalane after her 2010 debut. She was not happy with herself. She had wanted to win, and she was, well, a very unhappy camper that evening and into the next day. Her Bowerman TC crew was there, Evan Jager, Matt Tegenkamp, Coach Jerry Schumacher, all there to cheer their team mate on, in her first endeavor over 26.2 miles.
Shalane is an Olympic silver medalist. That is pretty impressive in itself. Achieved in Beijing in 2008, Shalane ran the marathon in 2012, taking ninth and in 2016, she placed sixth in a very good race.
Having taken seventh in the Boston Marathon in 2014, after having lead through 19 miles in 2:22:02, a big personal best, but again, a frustrating race as she wanted, as in all races, big and small, to win the event. In September 2014, Shalane ran 2:21:14 at the Berlin Marathon, setting another PB.
Shalane Flanagan has been coached by the team of Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert, a truly unique coaching team at the Bowerman TC. Jerry Schumacher does not do interviews. He prefers his athletes to get the accolades, and in all honesty, Jerry is an intensely private person. Schumacher’s athletes trust him, love him, respect him. For all the years that Jerry and Pascal have put into these athletes, they know that they are well prepared, they know that they are ready to race and they know that can challenge the world.
Shalane Flanagan finiished ninth in 2015 in Boston, in 2:27:47 in a very tactical race. Her sixth place in the World Champs 10,000 meters showed her speed, and her competitive desire were all there.
In 2016, while taking third in the US Olympic Trials marathon, Shalane took sixth in the Rio Olympic marathon, running the fastest of the US trio of Amy Cragg and Desiree Linden.
Coming into the New York City Marathon, Shalane had not run a marathon in a year, due to injuries. Her speed and endurance had developed well, as Coaches Schumacher and Dobert focused her training toward the fall marathon.
The race began pretty relaxed, perhaps, pedestrian, with early pace at 19:15 for 5k, 36:55 for 10k, 54:46 for 15k, 1:12:21 for 20k and the half marathon hit in 1:16:18. No one had been dropped by half way.
The pack consisted of Mary Keitany, Mamitu Daska, Kellyn Taylor, Diane Nukuri, Stephanie Bruce and Edna Kiplagat, all the while lead by Italy’s Sara Dossena.
The nature of the big city marathons, well in the U.S. is the lack of pacing. That means that no one really wants to lead.
The half had a pack of ten, and by 25k, the pack was at five at 1:30:08. Mamitu Deska, Edna Kiplagat, Mary Keitany , Shalane Flanagan and Eva Vrabcova were the players.
By 30k, hit in 1:47:05, Deska, Kiplagat, who had nearly knocked Mary Keitany down twice at water stops, Mary Keitany, and a very relaxed Shalane Flanagan.
Shalane had looked good from early on, and the pace was doing nothing to wear her out. The funny thing was, Mary Keitany was not looking good. Suffering from a bad day, Mary Keitany just did not have the energy she normally has, and her damn the torpedos, full speed ahead tactics were not seen on this course today.
At 35k, there were three, Mamitu Daska, Shalane Flanagan and a subdued Mary Keitany.
It was right about 23 miles that Shalane tested the waters, and they were perfection for Flanagan’s plan. Putting her head down, Shalane Flanagan put 35 seconds on Mamitu Daska and 26 on Mary Keitany.
The break in a marathon can come fast, and for Shalane Flanagan, it was fast, very fast. Flanagan looked better the faster that she ran. Mary Keitany did move into second having fought back from third and went after Flanagan, but it was not happening today.
Shalane Flanagan ran a 5:04 mile between mile 24 and 25, there was no way she was being caught. This magical moment had taken seven years to come to fruition and Shalane, overcome with emotion over the last 385 years, allowed herself to savor the moment.
How important is this moment? In American woman marathon, no women from US had won NYC Marathon since 1977 and the diminutive Miki Gorman, one of the true icons of our sport. Shalane Flanagan owned the moment. She thanked Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert, her team, her family and the community that loves her fearless running.
Will Shalane Flanagan run another marathon? Well, that is up to Shalane, with Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert there for support. But, something tells me that John Hancock Financial Services will be writing a very big check to encourage our new champion to run another race, in her hometown.