Brutal conditions? A nasty headwind? A chilly rain? None of those things stopped Desiree Linden, who became the first American woman to win the Boston since 1985, streaking away from the field.
Linden, a 34-year-old Californian, overcame the heartbreak of 2011, when she finished second in the marathon by two seconds, and won in an unofficial time of 2:39:54. Linden, a veteran long-distance runner who competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finished ahead of Kenya’s Gladys Chesir and, along the way, helped fellow American Shalane Flanagan get back in the race after a rest-stop detour delayed her.
Linden told boston.com that she likes to bide her time until around the 30K mark for the marathon, then make a move. That’s just what she did Monday. “It’s kind of like the blinders go up at that point,” she said.
The last American women’s winner in Boston? Lisa Larsen Rainsberger (then competing as Lisa Larsen Weidenbach).
It was a nasty day for a race, with officials announcing that the temperature of 38 degrees at the 8:40 a.m. Eastern time start in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, made this the coldest start in 30 years.
That meant that runners were coping with a different kind of misery this year, after last year’s 80-degree temperatures. Runners may love temperatures in the 40s, but not when rain and a blustery wind is added. Just look at Galen Rupp, who finished second in the elite men’s field last year. He had a unique approach Monday to staying warm, bundling up like he was about to rob a bank.
“The cold, the wet and the rain — that’s the three worst things you can have, and you have that in one race,” Abdi Abdirahman, a four-time United States Olympian said (via the New York Times) on the eve of the race. “A lot of guys have been talking about it, trying to be the tough guy and say, ‘Oh, I’m not worried about it, I will just have to deal with it.’ But you know, we will find out how many people are still intact after 30K.”
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Officials coped with the weather by giving runners two bibs, one for their outer garments or ponchos. Those bibs, though, have just the numbers on them. The bib with runners’ names are underneath a layer or two. (In case you were wondering why there were bibs with names and numbers.)
Shortly before 11 a.m., the first competitor crossed the finish line. Marcel Eric Hug of Switzerland won his fourth consecutive title in the men’s push rim wheelchair race in an unofficial time of 1:41:49, the slowest time in 31 years. Tatyana McFadden won her fifth women’s push rim wheelchair title and her 22nd overall in world marathon majors, the most of any women’s wheelchair athlete. McFadden’s unofficial time was 2:04:39, the slowest in 30 years.
The field of 29,960 athletes includes runners from all 50 states (4,921 from Massachusetts) and 109 countries. You can find runners by searching the field at BAA.org.
At least five openly transgender women have signed up to run the race, and a BAA official told Runner’s World that race officials and volunteers would compare gender identity on the government-issued ID required to pick up a bib number with what’s on runners’ entries.
If there’s no match, a BAA spokesperson told Runner’s World that it would be addressed “in a manner intended to be fair to all concerned, with a strong emphasis on inclusion.”
“We take people at their word. We register people as they specify themselves to be,” Tom Grilk, who heads up the Boston Athletic Association, told the Associated Press. “Members of the LGBT community have had a lot to deal with over the years, and we’d rather not add to that burden.”
Amelia Gapin, a transgender woman from Jersey City, heads up a social media group for trans runners and told the AP: “It’s kind of murky how people handle it. We are such a small percentage of the population that we generally just fly under the radar.”