If you didn’t get a chance to watch the 2018 Boston Marathon or you would like to hear more about it, here we are! 2018 did not disappoint.
One could say that the weather in Boston on Monday was less than ideal. It was the coldest Boston Marathon in thirty years. Here in Northern Virginia, I was upset that I had to look outside and see a bleak overcast day after I just had experienced actual spring weather on Saturday. That was nothing compared to what the runners in Boston had to experience. Temperatures ranged from upper 30s to mid 40s for the duration of the 26.2 mile run. Rain poured on the runners and wind gust picked up significantly throughout the race. Elite athletes remained in their rain jackets throughout the race and rarely did we see layers shed.
It wasn’t ideal conditions for a majority of the runners, but it set the scene for something American distance running fans have been awaiting: the drought of an American female winner. Before Monday, it had been 33 years since Lisa Larsen Weidenback took the title in 1985. We have seen many elite female athletes come through in the last three decades, but none have been able to cross that Boston finish line first. For 2018, America had multiple contenders who could break the drought: Shalane Flanagan, Molly Huddle, and Desiree Linden. Because of each their recent individual success, this could be the year. The hope wasn’t forced on any one particular athlete. With the weather conditions, it leveled the playing field and forced a pure guts race. By the end of the race, 23 elite athletes would eventually drop out. Notably, the men with the top seven seeded times would all drop out.
This was not going to be a fast race, for either the women’s or men’s side. This was going to be technical and gritty. The lead pack stuck together until Mamitu Daska made the first move just beyond the halfway mark. The timing could be associated to 2017 New York City Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan having to pull off to use a porta-potty. Flanagan communicated with Linden, and Linden hung back to help Flanagan regain her spot in the pack. Daska would stretch this lead as big as 24 seconds at one point over the chase pack including Desiree Linden and Gladys Chesir. Daska’s move forced her to run in front and solo. In that type of weather, it’s draining both mentally and physically. Chesir overtook Daska not long after Heartbreak Hill, and the American hopeful Linden was not far behind. At the 35k mark, Linden takes the lead. With just about five miles left, Linden began growing her lead. Linden never looked back. For the first time in 33 years, an American woman has won the Boston Marathon.
On the men’s side, viewers watched a different narrative. Leader for a majority of the race saw his 90 second lead at the 35k mark disappear to Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi with less than two miles to go. Kawauchi would overtake Kirui and take the victory on the men’s side. This would end another drought that started in the 1980’s. With his victory, he is the first Japanese male to win the Boston Marathon since 1987.
Finishing in the runner-up position was American Sarah Sellers. Nobody will get shunned if that wasn’t recognized as a household name before Monday. She wasn’t listed as an Elite prior to the race. Sellers ran for Weber State University and graduated in 2014. Now, she’s a full-time nurse who has zero agents and had as many sponsors as the one writing this recap. While no one may have known her name when she stepped on the line that rainy morning, we all know her story now. Just like Kawauchi, who is a full-time teacher, she will return to work on Wednesday like everyone else.
Another story, that is deserving of being highlighted is Ironman world record holder Tim Don. Days before the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, Don was hit by a car while cycling. This left him in critical conditions with a broken neck, essentially a hangman’s fracture. For the three months following, he wore a halo that was screwed into his head. The injury occurred in October 2017, and he set the goal to run sub 2:50 on Monday: Don ran 2:49:42.
Every race has amazing and inspirational stories that are sprinkled through. The 2018 Boston Marathon was no exception.
— Aaron McCray