Meet An Elite: Shalane Flanagan

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Now that it's cool to care about the Boston Marathon again, Fittish would like to familiarize you with the runners at the front of the pack. Today's elite: Shalane Flanagan.


Name: Shalane Flanagan

Country: United States

What City?: Um, she went to UNC, so maybe somewhere around there.

No, you know: It doesn't matter. Let's move on.

C'mon, bro, say it: Fine. She's from Boston.

Aw yeah, Boston Strong, baby! Go Sox!: Oh, shut up.

Age: 32

PR: 2:25:38 (5:34/mile)

Good News: This year's winner will probably run somewhere around 2:25, and she's done that before.

Bad News: You know who else has done that before? The fifteen women in this race with PRs faster than Shalane, including a couple who have run under 2:20.

Good News: She just set the American record in the 15K — 47:03 for 9.3 miles, which is 5:03/mile.

Bad News: Three of the favorites — Rita Jeptoo, Sharon Cherop and Mare Dibaba — have run that fast over an entire half marathon.

Good News: She is faster than Anderson Cooper over 400 meters.

Bad News: So are my middle-school age children.

Good News: She's younger than Jeptoo, the prohibitive favorite.

Bad News: She's older than just about every other contender.

Good News: She won the Olympic Bronze Medal at 10,000m in 2008.

Bad News: She probably never shows it to anyone because she doesn't want to seem like she's bragging.


Likelihood of Victory: If you watched the 60 Minutes piece, you will be surprised to learn that, on paper, she is not one of the favorites. If you did not watch the 60 Minutes piece, you will be surprised to learn that she actually has a chance to win.

Look, at this point, Flanagan has done everything but win a major marathon: she has an Olympic medal, she has a bunch of American records, she's finished in the top ten of several marathons (including runner-up at the 2010 NYC Marathon). So it wouldn't shock anyone if she finally seals the deal. And in almost any other year at Boston, you'd have to say she's one of the favorites to win.


Unfortunately for Shalane, this year's elite women field is loaded. It's not unusual for an American to beat five or ten runners with faster PRs, but she has at least fifteen women ahead of her on this year's start list. She'll need a good day — check that, great day — and a whole lot of bad days from the others.

Predicted Finish: She will undoubtedly hang with the front of the pack through mile 20, and hope that the city carries her to victory. So she's either finishing first, second, or out of the top ten. I'll go with: second place.


Fun Fact: Boston is full of awful, awful sports teams.

Photo Credit: Getty Images