It’s almost Marathon Monday! Spectating the Boston Marathon was my first exposure to the marathon as a “thing people did.” As a college freshman, I stood in Kenmore Square, cheered and fried in the sun on the first warm spring day in 2004, back when the marathon still started at noon.
I didn’t know how far a marathon was; I didn’t much care. I didn’t know any of the runners at the front or back of the pack, I didn’t know the burning desire that consumes people to chase a BQ — often for years.
I certainly didn’t know that four years later, I’d stand on that line in Hopkinton.
All this is to say, I love the Boston Marathon. It holds a very special blue-and-yellow place in my heart. I was going to go back this year, but after my best friend missed the cutoff I decided not to go. Instead I’ve taken a half-day off work and will be live-Tweeting for Salty Running (follow @saltyrunning) and yelling at the television.
It’s going to be a good year, guys.
Shalane. Desi. Deena. Molly. Jordan. Serena. Kellyn.
“In the Boston Marathon’s 122-year history, one will be hard pressed to find a more accomplished American field than the one John Hancock has established for 2018,” said Tom Grilk, CEO of the B.A.A.
Tom is not kidding.
Shalane Flanagan returns to her home turf after winning NYC — many of us wondered if she’d retire after New York, or if she needed to give Boston another go. “2015 Boston Marathon was a stinker Marathon for me,” she posted on Instagram April 1. “I’ve been training and preparing to go back and conquer it.” Don’t mess with Mama Shalane.
Desiree Linden returns to Boston having finished fourth last year, fourth in 2015, and second — by slim seconds — in 2011. Be sure to give this profile we published about her a read before the race, and you can check out her #TBT playlist on Spotify here.
Meanwhile, Molly Huddle is sticking her foot back in the marathon waters. She set a new American record in the half marathon in January, running 67:26 at Houston. She’s run one full marathon — New York in 2016, where she finished third in 2:28:13. If she’s racing, it’s not on a lark.
Oh! And Jordan Hasay. This field is so loaded I’m not even sure how to organize it. Jordan set an American debut record of 2:23:00 with her third-place finish in Boston last year, then dropped two minutes at the Chicago Marathon to finish third in 2:20:57.
Serena Burla will be there and is coming off a personal best in Osaka in January 2017. But, she’s also coming off surgery to remove a tumor from her hamstring … again. Back in 2011, she had a cancerous tumor the size of an egg removed from her leg along with half her hamstring. It was a gut-punch to hear she had found a new lump right after running the World Championships in London last August.
Kellyn Taylor, one of my favorites, was eighth at NYC in the fall and has continued training side-by-side with Stephanie Bruce up at NAZ Elite.
Sara Hall has had some great races lately and had planned to run, but withdrew last week citing an injury to her SI joint.
Now, I don’t expect her to be a contender in the women’s open division, but Deena Kastor could make a mark on the master’s side. This year marks 10 years since she won the 2008 marathon trials in Boston, held the day before the regular marathon. I was there. I high-fived a flag-wrapped Deena and watched fewer than 200 women race on a loop course around downtown Boston and Cambridge and thought to myself, “some of these women look a lot like me.”
So we’ve got a freaking loaded American women’s field. Of course, they’ll face serious contenders on the international front. Out of the 20 elite women, 10 have personal best times under 2:23:00.
That includes Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), who won Boston last year, then silver at the World Championships, then finished the year with fourth at NYC.
The field also includes
Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain), Aselefech Mergia (Ethiopia), Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia), Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia), Caroline Rotich (Kenya), Gladys Chesir (Kenya), Kellys Arias (Colombia), Madai Perez (Mexico), Krista Duchene (Canada), J essica Augusto (Portugal) and Jessica Draskau Petersson (Denmark). Note: Kirwa and Augusto have both withdrawn due to injury.
Saltines to watch!
How to spectate in person:
Use this guide from the BAA!
How to watch from afar:
- Online streaming probably via http://boston.cbslocal.com — we’ll update this page once it’s confirmed!
- Pre-Race Show on Sunday, April 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel
- Live Race Coverage on Monday, April 16 from 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
- Primetime Replay on Monday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Universal HD