A Perfect Pair: Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher

The two top American women—and best friends—will both be running Boston on Monday.

Kara Goucher image via Michalk / Shutterstock.com. Shalane Flanagan image via Flickr/Saroy.

Kara Goucher image via Michalk / Shutterstock.com” target=”_blank”>Michalk / Shutterstock.com. Shalane Flanagan image via Flickr/Saroy.

The Boston Marathon is just three days away, and Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher—the top two American women—both have their eyes on the prize.

It’s Flanagan’s first time racing Boston, but she’s the hometown girl (hailing from Marblehead) and has three other marathons, including the Olympics, under her belt. Goucher, who was also a member of the Olympic team, will be toeing the Boston start line for her third time, and seeks to draw on her experience on the infamously tough course.

Flanagan and Goucher are training partners under coach Jerry Schumacher, but the two marathoners are much closer than just that. “Shalane is like a sister to me. Going in, I expected us to have more of a business relationship,” Goucher says. “Shalane got me back into shape. I never would have made the Olympic team [last year] without her.” Flanagan agrees, and says that even outside of running, the two women connect on everything.

But come Monday, it’s every woman for herself. “We both have very different strengths and weaknesses, so we’ll be running our own races,” Flanagan says.

Goucher, who is known to close out a race strong, says that Flanagan is a leader, and likes to start hard and fast. And while Flanagan’s got a lot of attention for her goals to win the race on Monday, it would be a mistake to think Goucher isn’t shooting for the same thing. It’s been 28 years since an American’s won Boston, and when it comes down to it, that’s what this pair wants to change—regardless of who crosses the line first.

Goucher says that Flanagan used to joke, “If you win a medal, I get half of it.” Even though each woman will be running her own race, with her own strategy in mind, it’s clear there won’t be any animosity from one if the other breaks the finish line tape. The two are a definitive team. “We just want an American to win. Period,” Goucher says.

Flanagan says that having a close friend there will make the race better. “It’s a great comfort [to run with Kara]. It’s like going to do something kind of scary and having your best friend there.”