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Defending NYC Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan and 2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden both have their sights set on this year’s NYC Marathon podium.
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Gotham is gearing up to play host to the largest marathon in the world next month, and with just 25 days to go, the pros are making sure their final training miles leave them completely prepared to tackle New York City’s five boroughs. On November 4, approximately 50,000 athletes will make their way from Staten Island to Central Park, crossing historic bridges, weaving through Brooklyn brownstones and finishing among some of the world’s best runners in America’s most iconic park.
This year’s race will include representatives from 20 countries and 11 former New York City Marathon champions. Among the participating elites are defending 2017 New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan and 2018 Boston Marathon champion Desiree Linden, who are both aiming for success in these final days of training.
Last year, Flanagan was the first American woman in 40 years to win the TCS New York City Marathon. After preparing for the upcoming race in Park City, Utah, Flanagan is ready to defend her title, but she’s not letting the weight of that role get in her head.
“I think it’s exciting to be called the defending champion,” Flanagan says. “My standards for New York are pretty high. I’ve placed second there and first, so the podium is always the goal. That’s what excites me; that’s what I visualize in training. But I don’t feel any added pressure, to be honest. I know the crowd that New York Road Runners has assembled is quite phenomenal. And I know that it’s a large task. I think it’s just an exciting time, and I’m happy to be a part of such a deep race.”
Linden conquered the tough weather in Boston earlier this year to come out on top, cinching the first Boston win for an American woman in 33 years. She’s been prepping for NYC in Charlevoix, Mich., since Boston with her new coach, Walt Drenth.
“It’s a nice feeling to be back to the grind and just focusing on running,” Linden says. “But I’m probably more out of my comfort zone than ever before in terms of training. I made a big switch to working with Walt earlier this year, and he’s really testing me with workouts and systems that I haven’t worked on in a really long time. So the training has been challenging, and it hopefully will take me to a new level, which is what it’s going to take to be competitive in New York.”
Elite women have been clocking some fast marathon times recently (four of the fastest American women have raced their way to PRs since last April), and both Flanagan and Linden are excited to see where this era of achievement takes the female pros.
“I think success breeds success,” Linden says, “and we’re starting to see barriers broken down. When one person does it, it becomes more likely that another will.”
“It’s amazing when you see someone who’s similar to you have a breakthrough moment,” Flanagan says. “It just builds confidence in one another. It’s fun to be excited about amazing performances. We all thrive on it.”
Both Linden and Flanagan admit that they have some intimidating workouts looming over the next 25 days, but they’re ready to see the results those will bring come November 4. “I feel like, since 2016, I’ve become a much better marathoner,” Flanagan says. “It’s fun to test myself and see progress even at age 37.”
“I just actually really love the process,” Linden says. “I know that’s such a cliché, but going out and testing myself and seeing how good I can be is still what motivates me. Can I get a little bit better? Can I do it in another deep field? Can I do it on another course? All the decisions I’ve made this year are about pushing my boundaries. It’s been pretty easy to get out the door and keep chasing big dreams because of that.”
The TCS New York City Marathon will no doubt be an epic race for the women this year, and if you want to tune in outside of the Big Apple, you can catch Flanagan, Linden and all the pros at 9 a.m. EST on ESPN2 this November 4.