5 Questions With 2016 Olympian Desi Linden

She's already proved her grit over 26.2 miles—and she will be a force to be reckoned with at the trials next month.

Scott Draper

In 2012, marathoning standout Desi Linden captured second place at the Olympic Trials Marathon. That day, the three top finishers dipped under 2:27—the top five ran faster than 2:30 for the first time as well—which gave the nation a taste of what the future of American distance running might look like. Then, in 2015, Linden kept everyone on the edge of their seats as she navigated the streets from Hopkinton and Copley Square to hopefully become the first American woman in 30 years to win the Boston Marathon. She finished fourth and first for American women, proving once again that her 26.2-mile performances continue to reign supreme in professional distance running. As runners put the finishing touches on their training ahead of the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, anticipation grew for the most stacked field the event has ever seen—and Linden was right on top, finishing third, making her second Olympic team. We threw a few questions at her ahead of the trials (and hope to catch up with her to talk about that crazy top-10 finish for all the American women in Rio):

Interview posted Jan. 6, 2016

Women’s Running: Many elites participated in the Duo to Rio Relay in Dallas last December—a different and fun idea to shake up training! How was your experience running a relay race with fellow marathon trials competitor Jared Ward? Did it add a fun, different element to running a race for you?
Desi Linden: The Dallas Marathon Duo to Rio Relay was all about having fun and connecting with the Dallas running community. I loved the format, and the event did such a great job bringing in some marquee names in the sport. Each athlete was in a very different phase of marathon training; for me it was a great chance to put in some miles in a low pressure situation and fun atmosphere.

WR: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you during one of your training runs?
DL: Running in crazy weather, interactions with crazy drivers, spotting crazy animals. No one single event stands out. I’m not sure if running is just that monotonous, or I’ve become immune to all the crazy. (Linden trains in Michigan.)

WR: If you could have one song stuck in your head for the entire 26.2 miles, what would it be?
DL: Oh boy, that would be brutal! If I had to pick one it would be Boston “Foreplay/Long Time.”

WR: Why should everyday runners that don’t necessarily follow professional running tune into this year’s Olympic Trials in LA?
DL: The Olympic Trials has a story for everyone—from triumph to heartbreak, the range of emotions on display truly run the gamut. It’s the American dream pounding the pavement right before your eyes: dream big, work hard, achieve your goal. Casual runners may not start the day considering themselves “fans of the sport,” but I think everyone who tunes in will find a story out there that inspires or speaks to them in some way, and hopefully they will become fans because of it.

WR: Word on the street is you’re a possible “shoe-in” for the 2016 team—do you tune out such predictions/projections or use them as fuel?
DL: It’s certainly a nice compliment and reminds me that I have great momentum leading into the trials. However, there are no shoe-ins in the marathon; it takes putting in the work prior to the race and getting it right on the day.