Skip to content

Boston Marathon women’s preview

Apr 18, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

Shalane Flanagan AP

The most anticipated U.S. marathon in recent history has put more attention on one elite runner than any other.

That would be the woman with the 16th fastest personal best in the elite field of 21. Shalane Flanagan‘s story must be about more than hours, minutes and seconds, and it is, just as is this year’s Boston Marathon.

She was born in Boulder, Colo., but grew up in Marblehead, Mass., 16 miles northeast of Boston. Her personal connection to this race is well documented.

“I’ve never felt my running take on a more personal meaning than it will to prepare for this year’s race,” Flanagan said. “It’s hard to express what it means to return this particular year to the place where I grew up and compete. In one word, I guess it would be ‘pride.’”

Flanagan is one of the U.S.’ greatest all-time distance runners. She is the only American woman to win an Olympic medal on the track in a distance greater than 400m since 1992 (10,000m bronze in Beijing 2008).

Only 1984 Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit Samuelson and 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist Deena Kastor are higher than Flanagan among Americans on the IAAF’s all-time list (which doesn’t count Boston times due to its point-to-point, downhill course).

Flanagan finished fourth in her Boston Marathon debut last year. Come Monday, she is not favored to be the first American victor since 1985, but her objective is clear.

“It’s my ultimate dream and goal to win the Boston Marathon,” Flanagan said on “60 Minutes.” “I am all in.”

The field includes three women who have Boston Marathon titles — Kenyans Rita Jeptoo (2006, 2013), Sharon Cherop (2012) and Caroline Kilel (2011).

Jeptoo, 33, has a fantastic chance to win her third title. She went seven years between major marathon victories from 2006 to 2013 but claimed not only Boston but also Chicago (in a personal best time) last year. She was the fastest women’s marathoner in 2013.

She could be challenged hardest by top Ethiopian hope Mare Dibaba, whose only World Marathon Major experience was taking 23rd at the 2012 Olympics. But Dibaba, 24, has the fastest personal best in the field, 5 seconds better than Jeptoo. She was 8 seconds slower than Jeptoo at a half marathon on Valentine’s Day.

Several more Kenyans are in the hunt. Also, don’t forget about Desiree Linden, who set the American course record for Boston in 2011, when she finished two seconds behind the winner.

Men’s Preview: Two-man race? | TV, race schedules

Full women’s elite field:

Name Personal Best Time Country
Mare Dibaba 2:19:52 (Dubai, 2012) Ethiopia
Rita Jeptoo 2:19:57 (Chicago, 2013) Kenya
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong 2:20:48 (Chicago, 2013) Kenya
Meselech Melkamu 2:21:01 (Frankfurt) CR Kenya
Eunice Kirwa 2:21:41 (Amsterdam, 2012) Kenya
Sharon Cherop 2:22:28 (Berlin, 2013) Kenya
Caroline Kilel 2:22:34 (Frankfurt, 2013) Kenya
Desiree Linden 2:22:38 (Boston, 2011) U.S.
Flomena Chepchichir 2:23:00 (Frankfurt, 2013) Kenya
Buzunesh Deba 2:23:19 (New York, 2011) Ethiopia
Tatiana Petrova Arkhipova 2:23:29 (London, 2012) Russia
Aleksandra Duliba 2:23:44 (Chicago, 2013) Belarus
Yeshi Esayias 2:24:06 (Frankfurt, 2013) Ethiopia
Philes Ongori 2:24:20 (Rotterdam, 2011) Kenya
Belaynesh Oljira 2:25:01 (Dubai, 2013) Ethiopia
Shalane Flanagan 2:25:38 (Houston, 2012) U.S.
Lanni Marchant 2:28:00 (Toronto, 2013) Canada
Serena Burla 2:28:01 (Amsterdam, 2013) U.S.
Noriko Higuchi 2:28:49 (Tokyo, 2011) Japan
Adriana Nelson 2:28:52 (London, 2008) U.S.
Adriana Aparecida da Silva 2:29:17 (Tokyo, 2012) Brazil

Four-time Olympic medalist returns to run Boston Marathon again

Latest Posts
  1. Renaud Lavillenie, Valerie Adams win IAAF Athlete of the Year awards

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:10 PM EST

    Renaud Lavillenie Getty Images

    This year’s winners came from unprecedented nations and events.

  2. Ashley Wagner trails, Denis Ten leads at Trophee Bompard

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:24 PM EST

    Ashley Wagner AP

    Wagner could match a Michelle Kwan feat at the French event.

  3. Angelina Jolie showed Louis Zamperini scenes of ‘Unbroken’ on hospital bed

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:59 AM EST

    Angelina Jolie, Louis Zamperini AP

    “Unbroken” film about Olympian and World War II hero comes out on Christmas.

  4. Table tennis player shoves over referee after loss (video)

    Nov 20, 2014, 5:34 PM EST

    Table Tennis

    Young Dmitry Melnichenko lost the match, then lost his cool.

  5. Joss Christensen becomes ‘mountain man’ since Sochi Olympics

    Nov 20, 2014, 4:57 PM EST

    Joss Christensen Getty Images

    Olympic ski slopestyle champion uses a chainsaw every day.

  6. Louie Vito hopes to stand out after missing Olympics

    Nov 20, 2014, 3:03 PM EST

    Louie Vito Getty Images

    Vito thought he had what it took to make the Olympic team, but judges didn’t see it the same way.

  7. Claressa Shields wins first World Championships bout in 11 seconds (video)

    Nov 19, 2014, 11:30 PM EST

    Claressa Shields Getty Images

    Olympic champion could face the only woman who beat her in the quarterfinals.

  8. Mikaela Shiffrin finishes 15th, 16th in super-Gs in Colorado

    Nov 19, 2014, 8:25 PM EST

    Mikaela Shiffrin Getty Images

    “I don’t really want to race unless I have a shot at winning.”

  9. Vanessa-Mae faces retroactive Olympic ban

    Nov 19, 2014, 1:40 PM EST

    Vanessa Mae Getty Images

    Her name could be “erased from the list of participants,” IOC president said.

  10. Rio Olympics to have some morning track and field finals

    Nov 19, 2014, 11:29 AM EST

    Shalane Flanagan Getty Images

    Eight stadium events will have morning finals, a first for Olympic track and field since 1988.

  11. IOC proposes adding Olympic events, bid reforms

    Nov 18, 2014, 4:11 PM EST

    Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE Witters Sport via US PRESSWIRE

    The IOC will vote on 40 proposed changes to the Olympics in December.

  12. Ryan Lochte: I have no doubt Michael Phelps will come back

    Nov 18, 2014, 4:01 PM EST

    Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps Getty Images

    Also, Natalie Coughlin said she reached out to Phelps.

  13. Ryan Lochte unsure who is world’s best swimmer

    Nov 18, 2014, 3:52 PM EST

    Ryan Lochte, Kosuke Hagino, Michael Phelps Getty Images

    Four years ago, Michael Phelps’ coach said Lochte was the world’s best swimmer.

  14. Doha gets 2019 World Track and Field Championships over Eugene, Barcelona

    Nov 18, 2014, 9:23 AM EST

    Lamine Diack

    U.S. has never hosted the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

  15. Jennifer Kessy, Emily Day form new beach volleyball partnership

    Nov 17, 2014, 4:35 PM EST

    Jennifer Kessy Getty Images

    Olympic silver medalist’s partner in London was April Ross, who is now with Kerri Walsh Jennings.

  16. Bode Miller out until January due to back surgery

    Nov 17, 2014, 1:42 PM EST

    Bode Miller Getty Images

    Miller hopes to return one week before the one storied race he has never won.

  17. Peter Forsberg and the Olympics

    Nov 17, 2014, 1:16 PM EST

    Peter Forsberg Getty Images

    Swede being inducted into Hall of Fame authored one of the iconic Olympic moments in 1994.

  18. Holley Mangold takes 13th at World Weightlifting Championships

    Nov 16, 2014, 8:57 AM EST

    Holley Mangold Getty Images

    Sister of New York Jets center was competing in her first World Championships.