Carrying the hopes of a city on her back, Shalane Flanagan went straight to the front of the 118th Boston Marathon and began pushing the pace, early. Seeing such an experienced racer in the lead, viewers could conclude two things: Shalane felt her best bet was off of an honest pace… and she knew she was in the shape of her life.
Two-hours later, there could be no doubt of her fitness, as she slashed 3:36 from her previous marathon personal best, running a 2:22:02 — the fastest performance by an American woman in Boston marathon history. However, the quick early pace took its toll over the final 12.2 kilometers, as the Marblehead, MA-native slipped from the lead pack, having paved the way for a course-record time by eventual race winner Rita Jeptoo. Flanagan crossed the line in 7th.
Shalane’s performance is the 5th-fastest ever run by an American, bettered only by legends Joan Benoit and Deena Kastor. In fact, Flanagan’s 2:22:02 is faster than every winning time in the forty-eight women’s competitions in the Boston Marathon, except for course record performances in 1994 and 2002… and, of course, today.
The Olympic and World Championship bronze medalist hedged on a bet that a sub-2:23 performance could take the race, as it almost always has. While six other women were ready to meet that challenge on Monday, Flanagan put herself in view of her city and the world-at-large, took her best shot, and ran a lifetime best race.