Desi Linden beats Flanagan, finishes first for the American women.

Photo: Scott Draper
Photo: Scott Draper

Top American finisher Desi Linden executed a great race in less-than-optimal conditions to finish fourth.

While 30,000 amazing runners navigate their way toward Boylston Street, it was a fight for the win at the front of the pack, decided by a four-second margin.

Americans Shalane Flanagan, Desi Linden and Amy Cragg ran with a tight pack of 11 elite women for the first half of the race, with spectators only hoping the close quarters kept them a bit warmer than the less-than-ideal chilly conditions. Reacting to a conservative pace set early on, Desi commanded the middle miles from the front, hoping to break up the field.

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“I didn’t want to let it get too soft. The more people that are in there late, the further back in the race I’ll finish,” says Linden at the post-race press conference. “If that means doing a little more work on the front, then I was comfortable with that.”

Alternating between breaking the wind for the rest and tucking back as others creeped onto her shoulder, Linden had a convincing, solid look of determination as the eventual top-three finishers turned up the heat through the Newton area. Hometown favorite Shalane Flanagan lost contact with the pack through Newton, as did Amy Cragg. (Flanagan finished in the top-ten in 2:27:47.) The final 5K, however, determined the race, as Caroline Rotich of Kenya, Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia and Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia clocked a 5:07 through mile 24, easily the fastest mile of the day.

Following the final turn onto Boylston Street, Rotich and Dibaba battled for the break-the-tape spot against the backdrop of Boston’s signature roaring crowd and the slow, cathedral chime of the church bell at the finish line. Rotich got there first, capturing her first Boston title. Dibaba and Deba took 2nd and 3rd, and an emotional Linden finished a strong fourth, crossing first for the American women.

“It’s a nice feather in the hat, and I’m pleased with the effort,” says Linden of beating Flanagan to the finish, a first for the Brooks runner. “I have a ton of respect for her.”

Trailing just over two minutes behind Linden, Shalane finished in ninth place after a hard battle through the windy hills. However, the hometown favorite was all smiles after losing contact ten miles earlier, waving to the crowd as she made her way to the post-race medical tent. Adriana Nelson finished third for the Americans behind Flanagan. Amy Cragg, who fell off the back of the pack in the middle of the race, did not finish.

For all other runners who ran today (or are still running!), good luck, and we definitely commend you for braving this weather!