Happy Patriot’s Day, possibly the most important running holiday of the year! Last year I wrote about the crazy-stacked women’s elite field — I declared it was going to be a good year and I was definitely right even though there were plenty of surprises.
American women’s marathoning is a whole mood right now.
So, who to keep an eye on this year? Of the 22 women in the elite field, half of them have PRs under 2:23:00. The weather is forecasted to be similar to last year, although looks like a tailwind this year.
Sets us up for the big question: can Des defend? “(I’m) tougher than I realized,” she told ESPN. She finished fifth a month ago at the NYC Half in 1:11:22 and said she was happy with that performance. By comparison, she ran just over 2 minutes slower at the same race in 2018. For someone who contemplated quitting the sport not long before having the coveted laurel wreath placed on her head, I’m personally curious about her change in perspective. A solid performer who hadn’t won a marathon until Boston, all eyes are on Des this year. She says she wants to see if she can win twice and I believe she’ll run her ass off to try.
Also new to the spotlight is last year’s second place finisher, Sarah Sellers. She didn’t even have a Twitter account until after last year’s race when everyone cocked their heads and said, “Who?” She also raced the NYC Half in March, finishing 13th in 1:14:05, a PR that she said left her “hungry for more and so excited for Boston.” That’s on the heels of a PR in the New York Marathon last fall, some 8 minutes faster than what she ran in Boston. That was, by the way, her third marathon; this year’s Boston will be her fourth. The NY Times calls her routine the “craziest schedule in running” although it will sound awfully familiar to the rest of us; the Boston Globe reminds us she didn’t even know what place she was in when she finished.
And then there is Jordan Hasay, third at both Boston and Chicago in 2017. She PR’d on a warm day at that Chicago race with a 2:20:57 (second-fastest time ever by an American woman) then raced very lightly in 2018 after withdrawing from Boston with a stress reaction in her foot. This year, she’s run 1:11:06 at a half in Italy and ran 51:34 to win the Shamrock Run 15k in Portland a week later — and logged 23 miles for the day according to Women’s Running Magazine. She says she’s confident in her training and “raring to go.”
Sara Hall is toeing the line in Hopkinton for the first time. Like Jordan, she was scheduled to run last year but ended up as a scratch due to an SI injury caused by a fall during training. A couple of weeks later in early May, she was second at the U.S. Half Marathon championships in 1:10:07 and then dropped a marathon PR 2:26:20 in Ottawa at the end of May … on eight weeks of training. In July, she set a new half PR of 1:09:27. But then she dropped out of the Frankfurt Marathon in October with a peroneal injury. As I have told myself more than once, you only have to be spectacular on one day. Sara has shown an ability to have those spectacular days on race day. (Also check out this story from NPR’s Only A Game about Sara’s daughter Hana!)
But wait, there’s more!
Sally Kipyego will race her second-ever marathon 20 months after giving birth to her daughter, Emma. Runner’s World notes that, in fact, when Sally ran her marathon debut in NYC in 2016 she was unknowingly about four weeks pregnant. (She ran 2:28:01 for second.) She was slated to run NYC last year but a bout of pneumonia forced her to withdraw; she also had malaria last year. The Olympic and Word Championships silver medalist in the 10,000m ran 1:12:12 at Houston in January.
Lindsay Flanagan is also in the field, coming off what she describes as her “most consistent block of training” including tenth place at the NYC Half in 1:13:13. Becky Wade was just behind Sally in Houston a few months ago, running 1:12:35. She ran 2:35:01 in London last spring. Sarah Crouch — who, by the way, is a ridiculously talented painter — had to withdraw from the NYC Half with a flare-up of the calf injury that caused her to drop at mile 22 of CIM in December. The top American finisher at Chicago in 2018, Crouch PR’d there in 2:32:37 — which she ran 2.5 weeks after having a benign tumor removed from her quad. Out of this list of women, Sarah Crouch is one who I know personally and I was ecstatic to see her do well in Chicago and hope she has a great day in Beantown (and hey, Sarah, Kyle is working on my calf right now, too!)
And, for our Canadian readership (we’re big in Ottawa): Krista DuChene, last year’s third place finisher at Boston, is also returning. She clocked a 2:36:46 at Toronto in October to close out her 2018 season.
Click here for tracking on race day.
How to spectate in person:
How to watch from afar:
- Live Race Coverage on Monday, April 16 from 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network and NBCSN Gold
- Local coverage on WBZ-TV beginning at 7 a.m.
- Online streaming via http://cbsboston.com/ starting at 9 a.m.y