Her Big Finish
If Marblehead native Shalane Flanagan were to win the 2014 Boston Marathon, it would be the sports story of the year, maybe of the century. She’d be the first runner in decades to bring the top prize back to Boston, joining the same club as four-time champion Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the race twice (the first time in 1979 while wearing a Red Sox cap). It would be a long way from last year, in more ways than one.
Before the 2013 Boston Marathon became anything else, it was a disappointment for Flanagan. About three hours before the blasts, she crossed the finish line with tears in her eyes, frustrated with her performance. A two-time national champion in the women’s 5,000 meters, a U.S. record-holder in the 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 meters, and an Olympic bronze medalist in the 10K, she was a favorite to win, but instead finished fourth, just 16 seconds behind winner Rita Jeptoo.
Of course, within a few hours of her emotional finish, Flanagan’s race stopped mattering. For her family, the attacks hit especially close to home. Patriot’s Day had always been a celebration of what they do best: run. Flanagan remembers dropping off her father, Steve, also an elite marathoner, a few exits from the Hopkinton starting line and waiting anxiously for him at the finish. “To me, it symbolized being a Bostonian,” Flanagan said of her Patriot’s Day memories. “I actually thought it was a national holiday.”
In January, she was one of the first elite competitors to announce her return to the race in 2014. On April 21, she’ll get her shot at redemption—and at a place in the history books.
See more from our guide to the Boston Marathon.