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Des Linden Announces She’ll Race the 2021 Boston Marathon in October

The 2018 champion is coming back to try to reclaim her Boston Marathon title at the 125th anniversary of the race.

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After running the world’s fastest 50K in Oregon last Tuesday (2:59:54), Des Linden took off for New England to help mark what would have been Boston Marathon weekend, had the 2021 race not been rescheduled for October 11 due to the pandemic. On Monday, the 2018 Boston Marathon champion capped off a series of events by announcing her intention to race it again this fall.

“The 125th Boston Marathon is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race the Boston Marathon in the fall,” said Linden. “After a hiatus last year, I’m excited to return to the streets of Boston, in front of the best fans in the world, and take part in this historic race.”

Linden, who turns 38 on July 26, has raced the Boston Marathon seven times in her career, the fastest of which was in 2011 when she came up two seconds shy of the victory in 2:22:38. And then in 2018 she became the first American woman to win it in 33 years, persevering through historically rainy, windy, and cold conditions in 2:39:55.

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“Des Linden has been part of the Boston Marathon family for more than a decade, and her 2018 victory is one of the most memorable wins in race history,” said Tom Grilk, Boston Athletic Association president and C.E.O., in a written statement.

Linden is the first of the professional field to announce her plans, a sign of hope after more than a year of race cancellations. Registration for the rest of the qualified field opens on Wednesday and remains open until 5 p.m. eastern on Friday. COVID-19 protocols are in place and officials are allowing 20,000 people to race on October 11, less than the typical 30,000, though a virtual Boston Marathon option is available without a qualifying time, open to 70,000 registrants.

Linden has become a fan favorite not just for her accolades, but because she’s always been transparent about the work that goes into those achievements—and the encouragement she gives to runners of all abilities along the way.

“I’m the person who had to plug away for years and years, and on paper I shouldn’t even be a pro,” Linden said during an interview in early 2020. “I shouldn’t have gone to the Olympics. I shouldn’t have been runner-up in Boston [in 2011]. Are you kidding me? But I put in so much time and work and effort. Then, even on that day [at the 2018 Boston Marathon] when it was just, like, garbage outside, it was like, ‘Who’s had to suffer the most and work for it?’ It was the most appropriate day for me to win.”