It’s not everyday that runners get to reap the rewards of the many long hours of training, rehab and fatigue. For marathoners especially, the chances to race and chase dreams are few and far between. “Trust the process”, the saying goes. For Shalane Flanagan, today was a day when the process, one that began as a little girl dreaming of winning on running’s biggest stage, culminated with one of the most incredible performances in the history of the New York City Marathon and American distance running.
This morning on the streets of New York, Shalane won the New York City Marathon in a time of 2 hours 26 minutes and 53 seconds. She became the first American woman to do so since Miki Gorman in 1977, 4 years before Shalane was born. For Shalane, this marked her first ever win in World Marathon Major—her best previous finish coming 7 years ago in her marathon debut on the same course as today. Despite her many attempts and outstanding performances since then, victory had remained out of her grasp.
Although today was not Shalane’s fastest marathon ever (2:21:14 – Berlin 2014), it was the best overall marathon performance of her career, in large part due to the competition she defeated. Today’s field included Mary Keitany, the runner-up, who came in as the 3-time defending champion of and the top ranked marathoner in 2017, and Edna Kiplagat, the #2 ranked marathoner of 2017 and the winner of the New York Marathon in 2010 when Shalane was runner-up. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment when a marathon is won or lost, but it was clear that when Shalane made her move between mile 21 and 22, she meant business. Once she picked up the pace, Shalane kept the pressure on all the way to the finish, averaging 5:08 per mile for the last 5 miles.
In the weeks leading up to the marathon, there was a growing murmur amongst BTC coaches and team members about how fit Shalane was. Every race build-up is different, but all BTC pros know the markers of killer fitness and when Shalane returned from Mammoth Lakes, CA in early October she put together a string of workouts that dropped the jaws of even her world class teammates. It’s rare that we see Shalane in anything other than fantastic shape, but following a stress fracture during her build-up to the Boston Marathon last spring, no one expected her to be in the “best shape of her life.” That forced break proved a blessing, allowing her to attack training with renewed energy. Mid-build up, she remarked to teammates that she, “didn’t realize how tired she’d been for 3 years.” She hardly looked tired today.
Shalane’s performance comes on the heels of Amy Cragg’s bronze medal at the World Championships in August and the Chicago Marathon less than a month ago, where Chris Derrick was the second American (9th overall) in his marathon debut and Andrew Bumbalough finished 13th overall. For a group that started with professionals only competing on the track, the marathon crew is making a name for itself on the roads and significantly helping to raise the level of US marathon racing, leaving us to wonder if we will have to rebrand as BMC?
Shalane continues to impress and inspire all members of our club, and today has us all excited to get out and keep training. November 5th, 2017 will live forever in the history of BTC. For more information about the New York City Marathon and Shalane’s victory, check out some of the articles below.