We’re less than a week away from watching what is arguably the most impressive field of North American women ever assembled for the Boston Marathon. This is a showdown you’ll want to watch, not only for its entertainment value, but for the opportunity to study these athletes as they go to work.
Sponsor John Hancock has brought together the best of the best North American women, with Americans Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Linden, Molly Huddle and Jordan Hasay, and Canadian Krista DuChene. There are only two top North American marathoners I can think of who aren’t lining up at Boston: Canadian Lanni Marchant and American Amy Cragg.
The plot has been set since the announcement of this epic elite field back in January. Now, just days away from the main event, it seems fitting to take a look at what each of these women is bringing into Boston.
DuChene is the Canadian elite to keep an eye on at this year’s Boston Marathon. As the second fastest marathoner in Canadian history (2:28:32), DuChene will be looking to come back from a poor performance at the 2017 London Marathon. This will be DuChene’s second marathon since joining coach Dave Thomas-Scott and the Speed River Track and Field Club in Guelph, Ont. She is coming into Boston off a solid training block, averaging 158 kilometres per week.
Linden has been chasing victory in Boston since 2011, when she ran a personal best 2:22:38. She narrowly missed out on the win after being edged out by Caroline Kilel (Kenya) by two seconds. Last year Linden was quite vocal about wanting the win in Boston, which only added to her disappointment when she placed fourth (2:25:06). But Linden is perhaps the most level-headed marathoner out there. She took a break after Boston, regrouped, passed on a fall marathon in favour of some shorter races, and then dove into training for this year’s Boston. Though she has kept a low profile heading into Monday’s race, she shouldn’t be overlooked as a favourite to finish first among her American counterparts.
Last year in Boston Hasay ran the fastest-ever marathon debut by an American woman (2:23:00). She then went on to become the second fastest female marathoner in US history with a personal best 2:20:57 in Chicago. She has proven to have the strength needed to be successful in Boston. In March she pulled out of the World Half Marathon Championship, citing a “sore foot,” but it looks like she hasn’t missed a beat with her training in the weeks leading into Boston.
With more than 25 national titles to her name in distances ranging from 5K to 21K, Huddle is coming into Boston off a strong performance at the Gate River Run 15K (47:15). Huddle is the least experienced marathoner among this group of women. She debuted at the distance in New York in 2016, finishing in third place (2:28:13). Despite her lack of experience, Huddle’s dominance on the track and roads at shorter distances is enough to call her a contender. And her performance on the tough New York marathon course proved she has the strength and resilience to race 26.2 very well.
Injury kept Flanagan from racing in Boston last year, but she’s back this year as the American to beat. The 2017 New York City Marathon champion has said in several interviews that retirement is in her near future. She’s going into Boston with the weight of winning a world major off her shoulders, as well as the knowledge that this could be her final competitive race. It might just be enough to propel her past the race favourite: Edna Kiplagat of Kenya. The Marblehead, Massachusetts native has raced Boston three times, her best time coming in 2014 when she finished fifth in 2:22:02.