If this was the final marathon Shalane Flanagan will run in her career, she sure gave herself a nice going-out party. Up against a tough opponent in Kenya’s Mary Keitany, Flanagan pulled away with about three miles to go, making her the first American woman to take first place in the New York City Marathon since 1977.
Kenya’s Keitany had been the women’s victor in the NYC Marathon for the past three years, but this time around, Flanagan was able to oust her by about a minute. Her final time clocked in at 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 53 seconds, and upon crossing the finish line, she exclaimed with pure joy and excitement, hardly believing she was able to accomplish such a feat.
“It’s indescribable,” Flanagan said afterwards. “It’s a moment I’m trying to soak up and savor. This is the moment I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl.”
Prior to Sunday’s race, Miki Gorman was the last American woman to win the New York City Marathon, which she did in back-to-back years in 1976 and 1977.
The 36-year-old Flanagan had finished in second place in the NYC Marathon back in 2010, but she hadn’t run this particular marathon since. Due to a lower back fracture, this was her first marathon since competing in the Rio Games back in 2016 where she finished sixth.
Flanagan also has a lot of respect for Keitany, who she calls “the alpha racer.” Missing the Boston Marathon, she spent her time training so she’d be able to hold up against the Kenyan great, and told reporters beforehand that she was willing to “suffer dearly” in order to keep pace with her.
Interestingly, Flanagan had stated before the race that if she did win, she might retire. However, upon winning the marathon for real, she gave no indication on what her future might hold.