The winning time was the slowest for a women’s champion since 1978, but that mattered little to American Desiree Linden on Monday as she conquered ice rain and a strong headwind to become the first American female champion of the Boston Marathon since 1985.
“I don’t have the right words,” she said after finishing ahead of American teammate Sarah Sellers.
A two-time Olympian and the 2011 Boston runner-up by two seconds pulled away at the end of Heartbreak Hill in the 26.2-mile and finished alone in 2 hours, 39 minutes, 54 seconds.
Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi put on a late spurt to claim the men’s title. He was the first Japanese to win the famous race since 1987.
Linden – born Desiree Dávila in Chula Vista – ran for the U.S. marathon team at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic marathons. She was a two-time all-American runner at Arizona State.
The 34-year-old Linden now lives in Michigan.
Last month, she tweeted: “Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: keep showing up.”
American women took five of the first six places: Rachel Hyland was fourth (2:44:29), Nicole Demurcio fifth (2:45:52), and, Shalane Flanagan sixth (2:46:31).
Canada’s Krista Duchene was third in 2:44:20.
Linden claimed the $150,000 first-place prize.
Linden broke away from the field with about 4 miles left in the race. Sporting black shorts, black mittens and a black jacket with a horizontal yellow stripe, she raised her arms shoulder length to break the tape.
She immediately held her hands to her face.
Linden showed her teamwork by slowing halfway through the race to help Flanagan back into the lead pack when Flanagan took a restroom break.
A field of 30,000 runners from throughout the world showed up for a winter-like experience that forced the Boston Red Sox to cancel their traditional Patriots Day baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Temperatures were 38 degrees, with a wind chill of 35 degrees at the start of the race.
There are about 100 runners from the San Joaquín Valley who met the marathon’s strict qualifying time and showed up for the run. The field included 20 from Fresno, eight from Bakersfield, six from Modesto, six from Tracy, four from Visalia, three from Clovis, and two from Madera.
This story will be updated throughout the day, including results from local runners.