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Runners React to Shalane Flanagan’s Retirement

"You set the bar high and brought everyone on the line up to those standards. USA women dream bigger because of you."

As news spread of Shalane Flanagan’s retirement on Monday, the running community took to social media to share their thoughts and perspective on how one of the sport’s most decorated athlete’s has impacted their lives.

How runners are reacting to Shalane Flangan’s retirement

“What does her retirement mean to me? Many things. The one thing that sticks out the most is the journey,” her husband Steve Edwards wrote on Instagram. “Shalane never made it to Footlocker in HS, she bombed out at NCAA XC Champs her sophomore year (picture is 10min post race.) She was entitled to nothing in running, she earned it all. She never got overwhelmed with the process, just took it one mile at a time, for 20 plus years. From Boulder, to Marblehead, to Chapel Hill and now in Portland. Wouldn’t of changed anything.”

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Thank you to all who have congratulated Shalane and myself on her retirement. What does her retirement mean to me? Many things. The one thing that sticks out the most is the journey. Shalane never made it to Footlocker in HS, she bombed out at NCAA XC Champs her sophomore year (picture is 10min post race.) She was entitled to nothing in running, she earned it all. She never got overwhelmed with the process, just took it one mile at a time, for 20 plus years. From Boulder, to Marblehead, to Chapel Hill and now in Portland. Wouldn’t of changed anything, yeah, we made mistakes, but we learned so much along the way. “Started from the bottom and now we’re here.” -Drake Well done Shalane, as I always tell her, I couldn’t of done it better myself!!

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Her post-collegiate career was filled with excellence and dominance across distances—and was impossible to ignore.

Oiselle’s Sarah Lesko noted how she (and likely many other coaches) used Flanagan as an example of what good running looks like, tweeting: “During my 9 years coaching middle school XC and T&F, each season I would show clips of this race of Shalane Flanagan to demonstrate what good form and guts looks like.”

But for many, it was the 2017 New York City Marathon—when she became the first U.S. woman in 40 years to win—and her now iconic reaction that will forever be cemented in their memories.

That single moment changed American distance running forever, and created a legacy of greatness that raised the bar for everyone. “I smashed the 100 mile World Record a week after Shalane won NYC! The Shalane Effect is real!” wrote two-time World Champion ultrarunner Camille Herron.

Flanagan’s retirement doesn’t mean her impact is leaving the sport, however, merely shifting. She also announced on Monday her official move to coaching the Bowerman Track Club in Portland, Oregon. After competing for 15 years, Flanagan will now become one of the only women guiding the careers of U.S. Olympic runners.

“This badass pouty-mouth selfless passionate caring champion runner, who made 4 Olympic teams, laid the foundation for the 21st-century American elite women’s running boom,” Arizona State University sports historian and former NCAA track champion Victoria Jackson tweeted. “She lifts others up as she flies, and will continue to do so, now as a coach!”

From everyday athletes and race organizers to former teammates and future athlete’s she will coach, here are some of the runner reactions to the news of Shalane Flanagan’s retirement:

Courtney Frerichs, 2017 World Silver Medalist and professional runner with Bowerman Track Club:

Emily Infeld, 2016 Olympian and professional runner with Bowerman Track Club:

Kara Goucher, elite distance runner and former teammate of Flanagan:

Molly Huddle, elite distance runner and 10,000-meter American Record Holder:

Mary Wittenberg, former President and CEO of New York Road Runners: 

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Shalane – I am smiling wide and have a big lump in my throat as I think of alllll the inspiring moments you have provided us. Thank you for being a fiercely competitive runner. Thank you for owning your ambition. Thank you for helping us all be better. We lifted our game to host and support you at NYRR. We knew our hard work would always be matched and more by yours. Thank you for giving us reasons to believe. Thank you for being and doing you and giving loads of young girls and boys someone to look up to. Thanks for your community connection. I feel lucky to have seen you in action in Marblehead trying to creating a track of dreams for the next generation of Shalanes. Thank you for embracing injury and taking a real break that allowed you to come back and be the one to smash the 40 year wall to become the first American women to win NYC since 1977. Thank you for being a friend and leader of women. Thanks for helping all the women you have make Olympic teams as they in turn helped you too. And for showing how we are better together. Even at the top of the sport. Or the best book list. Thank you to you and Elyse for helping athletes, especially women, eat better for sport and life. The list goes on. You have given so much and your impact has been massive. Sooooo much in front of you. I am super excited to see you rocking it as a coach and leader in sports. Huge hugs of congrats! Mary

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Elyse Kopecky, two-time NYT Bestselling co-author of Run Fast. Eat Slow. and Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. with Flanagan:

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My dearest friend of 19 years, college teammate, co-author, and guiding light announced her retirement from pro running today. ✨✨✨ In the words of Shalane (written to me in #runfastcookfasteatslow Acknowledgements), “The best is yet to come, my lovely.” Shalane might be retiring from competing, but her gift to running will only grow exponentially in this next chapter. Through coaching and our next cookbook project (shhh still top secret!🤫) the next generation of young runners will benefit from her gracious gift to the sport. ✨✨✨ Read @ShalaneFlanagan ‘s inspiring goodbye to racing on the Run Fast Eat Slow blog (link in profile above). ✨✨✨ Shalane – You are a legend and a gift to humanity that extends beyond the sport of running. I feel incredible gratitude to work with you and share 19 years of laughs with you. So much more to come my shero!! #runfasteatslow

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Steve Magness, run coach and author of The Passion Paradox:

Paul Merca, track & field writer announcer based in Seattle:

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A shout out to a class act and a person I consider a friend for everything that you’ve done in your competitive career. : : It’s been a privilege to capture your career as a pro in various venues around the world. You were always composed when it was time to talk to the media, and you were always gracious with your time. : : More than the numerous national titles & the Olympic medal, I appreciated you sharing your knowledge with the younger athletes on the various @usatf national cross country teams over the years. : : Most importantly, I will never forget that night in Bydgoszcz after earning a team medal at the @iaaf_athletics world cross country championships—“Wine is on Magda!”, and the celebration at that wine bar that night with the team and staff members. : : So happy that you got to go out on your terms, and I look forward to seeing you in your role as a coach for the @bowermantc : : #thankyoushalane : : All photos copyright ©, Paul Merca, except photo 10, © Howard Lao, @howlaophotography. All worldwide rights reserved. : : #nikonsports #nikonsportsphotography #nikonsportsphotographer #nikond750 #nikond70 #nikond5 #paulmerca #crosscountryrunning #trackandfield #marathon #olympian #olympicmedalist @nikerunning @nike #justdoit

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Caitlyn Smith, former Women’s Running digital editor who wrote about some of Flanagan’s most pivotal life and career moments:

Sarah Mac Robinson, writer and 2016 Olympic Trials Qualifier:

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“I hope I made myself a better person by running. I hope I made those around me better. I hope I made my competition better. I hope I left the sport better because I was a part of it. My personal motto through out my career has been to make decisions that leave me with “no regrets”…..but to be honest, I have one. I regret I can’t do it all over again.” – @shalaneflanagan We’d all be here for it again. I’ve been inspired and starstruck by Shalane since she was racing for Marblehead (diff district, same state). She’s this exciting phenomenon where talent meets crazy hard work. She could even make a 10k on the track fun to watch for *all* the laps 😜And lets just talk about that NYC win 😭 . . I’m excited to see what her legacy is as a coach, but phew let’s celebrate her huge running career! What’s your favorite Shalane moment? 👇 #legend #shalaneflanagan

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Taneen Carvell, endurance coach based in Arlington, VA: