Shalane Flanagan. Des Linden. Allie Kieffer. Stephanie Bruce. Molly Huddle. That’s the shortlist of American women who are running 26.2 miles from Staten Island to Manhattan on Nov. 4 at the TCS New York City Marathon. Between their collective speedy resumes—all have run under 2:30—there’s a defending champ, a Boston Marathon champ, a 27-time national title winner, a first-time national champ and a breakout star. All are in very, very good shape, and all have a very valid shot at the podium this year.
Flanagan is usually pretty quiet about her training, but no one has forgotten last year’s storybook race, when she won her first marathon major, ending the American women’s 40-year drought. Her look of shock, the “F*CK YEAH!” at the finish line and the tears streaming down her face—you could feel almost feel every emotion she was experiencing. After busting rumors of a retirement following a hard time at this year’s Boston Marathon, Flanagan has a solid shot at defending her title.
Then there’s Linden, who won her first marathon major at Boston in April, defying the atrocious weather that destroyed dozens. Everyone who knows Linden knows she’s a human metronome; she has a plan, she puts in the work and she’s a force to be reckoned with on race day. And with a same-year major victory in her back pocket, time will tell—literally—what happens this weekend. If she wins, she will become the first women to do double duty between Boston and New York since 1989.
Of course, we can’t forget about the now-infamous Twitter tag. After Flanagan won NYC in 2017, she tweeted at Linden “now it’s your turn” when she congratulated her on her NYC win. Then, after Linden indeed broke the tape in Boston five months later, Linden passed the torch to Huddle, who finished a very disappointed 2:50 and change.
Head up. You’re next 🇺🇸. #TogetherFoward
— des_linden (@des_linden) April 24, 2018
Superstitions aside, Huddle is a damn machine, with a slew of titles to her name, plus a sub-2:30 debut here in 2016. She’s out for redemption following Boston, and with those quick 10K wheels, she won’t budge from the pack when the going gets tough; she’s hard as nails. My money’s on Huddle. (What can I say? I’m superstitious.)
There’s also Bruce’s first national title this summer, when she won the 10K championships in July. Bruce is very vocal on social media about her training, most recently with her “Grit” series that chronicles the final weeks of buildup ahead of NYC. She’s in great shape, arguably having her best running year ever. After giving birth to her second son, Bruce has patiently clawed her way into the greatest shape of her life and stayed consistent in her training, just in time to face this insane field.
Kieffer is another that’s impossible to pass over. She’s been destroying her training and recently talked about how confidence is the greatest tool she has. She placed a head-turning fifth place in New York City last year—the second American across the line—as an unattached runner that most people hadn’t heard of. Now she’s sponsored by Oiselle and is fresh off a half-marathon victory. If that’s not a mega confidence booster, then I don’t know what is.
Up against Flanagan and the rest is Kenyan Mary Keitany, who finished second behind her after three consecutive wins in NYC. Keitany has run a blistering 2:17:01 marathon, so the return matchup between her and Flanagan will definitely be thrilling. Should she take the title back, she’d only be the second women in history to win four times.
Vivian Cheruiyot, Keitany’s fellow countrywoman, won the London Marathon earlier this year, with a sub-2:20 finish. Others to watch include this year’s world half marathon champion, Ethiopian Netsanet Gudeta, and last year’s third-place finisher Mamitu Daska. Together with Flanagan and Keitany, Daska rounds out a full 2017 podium return to the start line.
Nov. 4 could be anyone’s day, but it could also see two Americans on the podium and definitely plenty in the Top 10.
Podium Predictions: Molly Huddle, Mary Keitany, Des Linden