The 122nd Boston Marathon was one for the ages, thanks to icy rain and howling headwinds that left many runners battling hypothermia throughout the race. In the end, Yuki Kawauchi of Japan (2:15:54) and Desiree Linden of the US (2:39:54) both weathered the storm to wear the laurel wreath for the first time, despite posting the slowest winning times in 40+ years. From its relentless weather to its surprised winners, here are 12 fun facts you may have missed from an unforgettable Marathon Monday.
1) Kawauchi, who trailed Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya by about 90 seconds approaching Heartbreak Hill (mile 22), didn’t realize he was winning until a race official waved him to the right side of the street with 100 meters to go, and he saw the finishers tape ahead of him.
2) Linden was one year old in 1985, the last time an American woman won Boston (Lisa Rainsberger née Larsen-Weidenbach, 2:34:06). Kawauchi was born two years later in 1987, the same year a Japanese man last won Boston (Toshihiko Seko, 2:11:50).
3) Just how bad was the weather? A few numbers:
- Only 95.5% of this year’s field completed the 26.2-mile course, down notably from recent years (97.0% in 2017, 96.9% in 2016, 97.9% in 2015). A huge high-five to those in the 95.5%!
- Linden’s winning time would have placed her 23rd in 2011, the year she lost by two seconds to Caroline Kilel of Kenya.
- New York City Marathon champ Shalane Flanagan finished 7th this year in 2:46:31, four years after finishing 7th in a then-personal best time of 2:22:02.
- Despite the US placing six men and seven women in the top 10, no American runner achieved the “A” qualifying standard for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials of 2:15:00 for men and 2:37:00 for women.
4) Linden slowing while her friend Flanagan made a bathroom stop between miles 11 and 12 brought to mind four-time Boston champ Bill Rodgers. In 1975 Rodgers stopped to tie his shoelace at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill — and paused four more times to drink water along the way — en route to setting the course record by 35 seconds.
5) If this was indeed Flanagan’s final Boston Marathon (and she sounded convinced after the race that it was), she leaves with the American course record of 2:22:02 set in 2014, as well as a legion of fans for whom Patriot’s Day won’t be the same without one of the legends of American distance running leading the charge.
6) If we had to sum up Boston 2018 in five words, we couldn’t do better than the first question asked of runner-up Sarah Sellers and third-place finisher (and Masters winner) Krista DuChene at the post-race press conference: “Can you please introduce yourself?”
7) Speaking of DuChene, the Canadian offered this understated appraisal of her performance, which earned her $40,000: “Although I love being a registered dietitian, this is definitely more exciting.” And according to Runner’s World she admitted, “It’s surreal. I didn’t believe I was third until they showed me the printed result.”
8) Not only does he own the unofficial world record for the fastest half marathon run in a business suit (1:06:42), but according to Japan Running News, in a Boston warmup race “citizen runner” Kawauchi finished second in his hometown half marathon while wearing a full-length panda costume. Clearly Alberto Salazar isn’t his coach.
9) With 14 marathon finishes in the past 365 days, Kawauchi brought to 79 his world-record total of marathons completed in less than 2 hours 20 minutes. And though we can’t confirm, he may be the first-ever elite to qualify for Marathon Maniacs “Gold” status.
10) One of the day’s most inspiring stories comes courtesy of Tim Don, the IRONMAN world-record holder from Boulder, CO who set a goal to complete Boston in 2 hours 50 minutes, six months after a car struck him and broke his neck during a training bike ride. Don finished in 2:49:42.
11) As the aftermath of the 2013 bombings taught us (and as we’ve experienced for ourselves), Patriots’ Day brings out the best in the people of Boston. Case in point, this story of a benevolent stranger sacrificing the jacket off her back in near-freezing rain to save the day for one struggling runner.
12) Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night: And finally, Marathon Monday wouldn’t be the same without Boston Race Director Dave McGillivray in his familiar role as the last starter, completing his 46th consecutive Boston Marathon under cover of darkness. By his own account, Boston 2018 was tougher than running in Antarctica. Congrats, Dave!
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