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Shalane Flanagan ends drought with incredible win at New York City Marathon

The 2008 Olympic silver medallist over 10,000m ended a drought of four decades in winning the 2017 New York City Marathon

Shalane Flanagan
Photo: Kelly Doyle.

Shalane Flanagan is a World Marathon Major champion ending a 40-year drought.

The American beat the second-fastest marathoner (2:17:01) of all-time, Mary Keitany, and the 2017 Boston Marathon champion, Edna Kiplagat, in the most significant road race of her life in winning the 2017 New York City Marathon, the largest 42.2K in the world. It was the first American win by a woman in New York City since 1977.

RELATED: NYC Marathon men’s recap.

“This is the moment I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl,” Flanagan told media after the race.

Flanagan, 36, had a stress fracture in her back earlier this year and needed to withdraw from the 2017 Boston Marathon. On Sunday, Flanagan ran 2:26:53 to defeat Keitany, who clocked 2:27:54. Flanagan ended Keitany’s three-year winning streak in what was a slow and tactical affair for much of the race before action heightened in Manhattan.

It was the first American win by a woman at a World Marathon Major since 2006. Deena Kastor won the London Marathon that year. Flanagan, who trains with the Bowerman Track Club out of Oregon, had not raced a marathon since the 2016 Rio Olympics. Flanagan was running with Keitany and Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska before breaking away entering the rolling and challenging hills of Central Park, appropriate given Flanagan won a bronze medal at the 2011 IAAF World Cross-Country Championships.

Daska finished third overall at the 2017 NYC Marathon in 2:28:08.

The pre-race favourites included Keitany, the 2014-2015-2016 New York City Marathon champion, Edna Kiplagat, the 2017 Boston Marathon champion and IAAF World Championships silver medallist and Flanagan, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist over 10,000m. Perhaps a surprise result was Allie Kieffer of the United States in fifth, finishing just behind Kiplagat.

Top-7 results

1 108 Shalane Flanagan USA 2:26:53
2 101 Mary Keitany KEN 2:27:54
3 105 Mamitu Daska ETH 2:28:08
4 102 Edna Kiplagat KEN 2:29:36
5 126 Allie Kieffer USA 2:29:39
6 120 Sara Dossena ITA 2:29:39
7 117 Eva Vrabcova CZE 2:29:41
8 114 Kellyn Taylor USA 2:29:56
9 106 Diane Nukuri BDI 2:31:21
10 116 Stephanie Bruce USA 2:31:44

As is typically expected in NYC, the first 3K or so across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at Staten Island was slow. Laying low in the pack was Keitany, who was aiming to win her fourth consecutive New York City Marathon.

The lead pack went through 5K in 19:09, or 2:41:30 pace for the marathon. Before 10K, Ethiopia’s Bizunesh Deba, a sub-2:20 marathoner, gapped the field by approximately 25m, which only lasted for 1-2K. The slow early pace took the course record, 2:22:31, off the table early.

The women reached 15K in 54:44 and the half-marathon split in 1:16:18 as runners continued to fall off the back of the pack, not uncommon in a race with a slower early pace before things increasingly ramp up. In the early stages, the most dramatic moments came at the water stations as athletes fought for room to snag their fluids with Kiplagat and Keitany nearly falling at 20K.

Shalane Flanagan
Photo: Kelly Doyle.

Nine women remained at 25K in 1:30:07. Italian triathlete Sara Dossena led the race over the Queensborough Bridge, a notably quiet part on the course as there’s no spectators. Two-time Olympian in cross-country skiing Eva Vrabcova was also in the lead pack.

The 30K split passed in 1:47:05 as the women neared Manhattan and Central Park with three Americans still in the mix.

Then, at 33K, Flanagan, Keitany and Mamitu Daska made a break and gapped the field. The mile split was 5:25, the fastest of the race up to that point. Flanagan continued to gap Keitany and eventually built up a gap of one-minute to enjoy the final metres of the race and soak in the atmosphere in Central Park, in front of tens of thousands jammed into the park.

The professional women’s field began at 9:20 a.m. EST with the professional men and mass start, beginning with wave one, following at 9:50 a.m. The point-to-point race begins at Staten Island and finishes in Central Park after passing through the five boroughs of New York City – Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and, finally, Manhattan.

New York City Marathon coverage presented by New Balance.