Written by: Shannon Polk, Kudos Team Contributor
It wasn’t going to be a record-breaking day in Boston, but athletes came to conquer the course, as well as downpouring rain and relentless winds. We weren’t surprised by the true grit we saw on the roads, but we were amazed by the impressive comebacks from winners Desiree Linden (USA) and Yuki Kawauchi (JAP). Also worth mentioning is the women’s runner up, who upon finishing had everyone asking, “Who is Sara Sellers?”
So let’s recap today’s events, starting with the wheelchair races. For the first 20 miles of the men’s race, Marcel Hug of Switzerland and Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa (a 10-time Boston champion) were neck and neck, but Marcel took the lead on Heartbreak Hill and finished in 1:46:26, winning the title for his fourth consecutive year. In the women’s race, American Tatyana McFadden stormed back from second to take a huge lead—despite a history of blood clots and claiming to only be at about 85%—to win her fifth Boston title with a time of 2:04:40. The wheelchair finishing times weren’t fast—for the men’s, it was the slowest winning time in 31 years—and runners were in the same boat.
The women’s race began at a sluggish pace with no one in a hurry to increase the speed. For the first 5K, the elite women were running at about 2:42 pace. Then things became interesting when, before the halfway point, American Shalane Flanagan darted to a porta-potty for a 13-second bathroom break. Even more surprising was Desiree Linden dropping back to help bring Shalane back into the race. What fantastic sportsmanship and ultimately good karma from Desiree, who ran a smart second half and took a controlled lead, not breaking a smile until she crossed the finish line in 2:39:54. She was followed by Sara Sellers, a full-time nurse from Arizona, and 41-year-old Krista Duchene from Canada.
Just like the women’s race, the men’s division had some unexpected leaders. Although our pick to win, American Galen Rupp, put up a fight in the beginning, he ended up dropping out of the race between miles 18 and 19. And despite defending champion Geoffrey Kirui’s large lead in the second half of the race, he was eventually taken over by Yuki Kawauchi and came in second. If anyone was ready for this marathon, it was Yuki, who’s run more marathons under 2:20 than anyone ever (77) and finished the Marshfield Road Runners New Year’s Day Marathon in 2:18:59 despite -5 degree temperatures. Oh, and did we mention he works full-time and is running a half marathon on Sunday?
We’re thrilled for Yuki and all the winners. We’re equally impressed by all the participants and volunteers who braved today’s harsh weather conditions. Kudos to you!