Could we see Americans top the men’s and women’s podiums at the Boston Marathon this year? The odds are definitely stacked in favor of Team USA.
“In the Boston Marathon’s 122-year history, one will be hard pressed to find a more accomplished American field than the one John Hancock has established for 2018,” said Tom Grilk, CEO of the Boston Athletic Association. “With Olympic medalists, Abbott World Marathon Majors winners, American record holders and more, this will be the most decorated U.S. fields in Boston Marathon history.”
Some of the standout names to follow in Boston this year:
Everyone loves a story of redemption, and perhaps none is better than 36 year-old Shalane Flanagan, a four-time Olympian who was toying with the idea of retiring at the end of the 2017 season. But then she won the New York City Marathon – the first U.S. woman to do so in 40 years – and realized maybe it’s not time to hang up her race flats just yet. Having grown up near Boston, Flanagan has long dreamed of winning “The Marathon,” as locals call it, and she’s in fine form to do so this year.
Look up “grit” in the dictionary, and you’ll see a photo of 34 year-old Desiree Linden. The two-time Olympian has a long and storied history with the Boston Marathon, from a heartbreaking second-place finish in 2011 (where she came within two seconds of winning) to a gutsy, emotional, empty-the-tank effort for fourth place in last year’s race. Such tenacity takes its toll, and Linden has been very open about her struggles with burnout in the past year. After some time off, however, it looks like Linden is returning to top form and ready to challenge for the crown.
Molly Huddle is both a wild card and a contender. She’s only got one marathon to her credit, but it was a good one: a third place in 2:28:13 at New York City 2016. Since then, she’s focused on track and shorter road races, where she holds the American records for 10,000 meters and the half marathon. The latter record was set just a few months ago in January, where the 33 year-old clocked a 1:07:25 at the 2018 Aramco Houston Half. Has she kept the momentum going? We’ll find out in Boston.
The 2017 Boston Marathon was Jordan Hasay’s first time racing 26.2, and boy, what a marathon it was: Her 2:23:00 is the fastest marathon debut ever for an American woman, breaking Kara Goucher’s nine year-old record by almost three minutes. The 26 year-old has only gotten better since then, following up her third-place finish at Boston with a 2:20:57 at the 2017 Chicago Marathon.
Just when you think Sara Hall can’t get any better, she finds another way to impress. The former steeplechase champion and middle-distance star stepped up to the marathon in 2015, and her performance has been on a steep upward trajectory since. 2017 was particularly good to Hall, who started the year with a PR in Tokyo, improved it by more than a minute in Frankfurt, and closed out the year with a win at the U.S. Marathon Championships in December.
The dark horse in this year’s race is 30 year-old Kellyn Taylor. The 30 year-old has been on the verge of a marathon podium for the last few years, placing sixth at the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials and eighth at the 2017 New York City Marathon. This will be her first time in the elite field at the Boston Marathon, and it might be just the breakthrough race she’s trained for.
Galen Rupp, once known for his dominance on the track (Rupp holds the American records for the indoor 3,000 meter, 5,000 meter and 2-mile races as well as the outdoor 10K) has replicated his success in long-course running. In just two years of racing 26.2, The 31 year-old has collected an Olympic bronze medal, a win at the Chicago marathon, and a second-place finish in Boston. It’s the latter he wants to improve on most, and he’s primed to achieve that in this year’s race.
34 year-old Dathan Ritzenheinis the third-fastest American marathon in history, touting a 2:07:47 personal best set in 2012. The three-time Olympian has run Boston once before, finishing as the top American (and seventh overall) in 2015 before a series of injuries caused some major setbacks. After rehabilitating a torn plantar fascia, Ritzenhein worked hard to return to top form. Boston is part of an ambitious comeback plan that he hopes will culminate in a return to the Olympic games in 2020. His strong 1:02:42 performance for second place at the 2018 NYC Half shows he’s well on his way.
41 year-old Abdi Abdirahman took the Masters Division title in last year’s Boston Marathon, but that’s not the title he wants. The four-time Olympian, who also finished sixth place overall at last year’s race, wants to show he’s still a contender at the elite level. It’s not a completely ridiculous proposition: Abdirahman is only two years older than Meb Keflezigihi was when he won the 2014 race. Given that Abdirahman is still in the mix at most every race he enters, we can’t count him out entirely.
This 32 year-old seemed to come out of nowhere at last year’s Boston Marathon, taking fourth overall and leaving everyone scrambling to learn more about the unsponsored runner. A year later, Biwott returns to the race that put him on the map, this time with sponsors, membership on an elite team, and a strong desire to show that last year’s performance was no fluke. He had a solid tuneup at the 2018 NYC Half, averaging 4:53 pace to finish twelfth in a stacked field.
The 122nd running of The Boston Marathon will take place on Monday, April 16, 2018. For more information, including a full list of athletes racing, visit baa.org