Original post April 16, 2018
Repost December 31, 2018
Repost April 14, 2019
David Hunter has written for runblogrun for many years. David covered the Boston Marathon by his lonesome this year. The previous several years, David and I had spent the Boston Marathon day covering the event from the media center. I had had heart surgery on April 11. So, I watched the event via Columbia (bootleg) and Poland. Next year, in Boston.
Des Linden is a unique athletic archtype in our American running culture. Well liked, with a self depricating sense of humor, keen observation skills and the work ethic only surpassed by Joan Benoit Samuelson in her heyday, Desi Linden took all of those skills and built a win today in Boston. Her win was the result of a combination of her skills and her desire.
The 1968 Olympic decathlon champ, Bill Toomey, gave me the following theory. The one who wins an athletic competition is the one who covets the event the most. In 1968, Toomey practiced the high jump in the rain in Santa Barbara, telling himself that it might rain in Mexico City. And sure enough it did. His vault poles were lost in transist, but that was another story.
Des Linden had run five Boston marathons. Her experience helped her in her sixth Boston marathon. Des Linden had ground out some serious miles and workouts. She had run some cold long runs in Michigan and she probably had some runs that beat her up more than Boston in 2018. Most of all, Des Linden coveted this race, this crazy race from Hopkinton to Boston more than anyone else in the elite field.
David Hunter gets that across as he builds the arguement that Des Linden put all of her talents together to win this race, this 2018 Boston Marathon. When asked later if an his athlete could have won Boston if it had been better conditions, Coach Kevin Hanson, the zen master of coaching, noted, ” But the conditions were not better.”
Desiree Linden won the 2018 BAA Boston Marathon in the most god awful conditions in the past four decades. She is a Boston marathon legend.
Linden Is 1st American Women’s Boston Champion Since 1985
April 16th, 2018
Along with the other elite women competitors, two-time United States Olympic marathoner Desiree Linden stood shivering at the Hopkinton start line this morning for what seemed like an eternity. But after the starting pistol was fired, she took her time, kept her cool, and ultimately showed – to herself, her competitors, and others – she had the winning race plan which she executed with perfection.
While two past winners – defending champion Edna Kiplagat and course record holder Buzunesh Deba – had been considered by many as the pre-race favorites, a gaggle of American women were nonetheless seen as most worthy challengers, each seeking to become the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon since 1985. Shalane Flanagan, local favorite from nearby Marblehead, Massachusetts, hoped to pair a Boston title with the New York City Marathon crown she captured last November. Other top Americans toeing the line featured two-time Olympian and American record holder at 10,000 meters Molly Huddle, Olympic medalist and American record-holder Deena Kastor, and Linden, a 2-time Olympian and 3-time top-5 Boston finisher.
As race day dawned, the big story was the weather. Yet the driving rain, the relentless headwind, and the bone-chilling temperatures proved to be but a mere inconvenience for the tribe of hearty Boston Marathoners who have been able to transform the horror of the ’13 Patriots’ Day bombings into the galvanizing rallying cry of “Boston Strong.” But make no mistake: the weather was absolutely miserable. How bad was the weather? All of the elite athletes were given two bid numbers: one to pin on their singlet and one to display on their windbreaker – which all inevitably wore to fend off the torrential rain and sub-freezing wind chill in what most considered to be the worst Patriots’ Day weather in memory.
Unlike the men who ran aggressively from the gun, the start of the women’s race featured cautious jogging as no one wanted to fight the overwhelming headwind. Shortly after an opening 5K in a wise, yet dawdling, 19:17, Ethiopian athlete Mamitu Daska took the lead, soon to be joined by Deba. As the course continued to roll downhill, the women’s lead pack – about a dozen strong and including Linden, Flanagan, and Huddle – split 10K in 37:07, putting the pack on 2:38 marathon pace. Kenya’s Gladys Chesir was in the lead as the pack crossed 15K in 56:15. Shortly thereafter, Kiplagat – with 5 victories in Marathon Majors to her credit – made her first move to the front as Flanagan made a speedy Port-A-John visit but scrambled back to the pack in a flash. Shortly past the Wellesley campus, Daska once again grabbed the lead with authority and threw in a surge. After a 5:37 mile and crossing half marathon in 1:19:41, Daska had forged an 80 meter lead. After dropping down into Lower Newton Falls, Daska, all alone, attacked the hills. After turning right at the Newton Fire station and charging up the first Newton hill, the 3rd place finisher in last year’s New York City Marathon had built a 20 second lead. While Daska – a 2-time Frankfurt Marathon champion – ditched her gloves and hat to get down to business, Kenya’s Gladys Chesir and Linden broke away from the chase pack to set sail after Daska. As the hills began to take their toll on the leader, the two pursuers began to close the gap. When Daska passed 20 miles in 2:00:57 her lead was down to 13 seconds with Chesir, 6th in the ’16 World Half Marathon Championships, in 2nd and Linden working hard in 3rd. After struggling up Heartbreak Hill, Daska ran by Boston College but soon was passed Chesir with Linden pushing hard to catch up with the only two athletes ahead of her. Just after 35K [reached in 2:12:22] and before reaching the Cemetery of Broken Dreams, Linden The Grinder – roaring down the hill toward Cleveland Circle – made quick and powerful passes by both Daska and Chesir to take the lead, control, of the race, and gain the chance once again to win the race she covets the most. While roaring through Cleveland Circle, the rain momentarily subsided as Linden knew this was the moment she must seize. Heading toward the Back Bay, she soon had a substantial lead, a lead that grew as fans lining the streets cheered “USA, USA”. With a safe margin on the field, Linden was able to savor the final downhill run on Boylston to the finish line, serving to replace the memories of her valiant, but unsuccessful 2011 Boylston Street battle with Kenya’s Caroline Kilel. The Hanson athlete crossed the line in 2:39:54, the slowest winning women’s time since Gayle Barron’s Patriots’ Day win in 1978. No one cared. Linden had defeated her opposition and the weather with a grind out victory that made her the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon since Lisa Larsen Rainsberger captured the laurel wreath in 1985.
Linden’s winning crossing preceded a parade of young and surprising athletes who followed her over the finish line. Sarah Sellers – an oft-injured runner while at Weber State – finished 2nd in 2:44:04 while Krista Duchene – a 41 year old Canadian mother of 3 – finished 3rd in 2:44:20. All in all, the U.S. women placed 7 finishers in the top ten: Linden, Sellers, Rachel Hyland [4th in 2:44.29], Jessica Chichester [5th in 2:45:23], Nicole Dimercurio [6th in 2:45:52], Flanagan [7th in 2:46:31], and Kimi Reed [8th in 2:46:47]. All finished ahead of defending champion and decorated marathoner Edna Kiplagat who finished 9th in 2:47:14.
Afterwards, Linden, sporting the laurel wreath, wrapped in warming towels after her 26 mile ice shower, and held steady by her coach, was candid in her response to questions. “I don’t have the words. It was a grinder’s day. It is supposed to be hard,” said the shivering champion. And when asked about the several American women given a chance to win today, Linden offered a humble reply. “It could have been any of our top women. I am just fortunate that I was able to get it done today.”