The Boston Marathon Had Two Shocking Winners

Illustration for article titled The Boston Marathon Had Two Shocking Winners

You will read, and in fact are reading right now, that Desi Linden and Yuki Kawauchi’s times (2:39:54 and 2:15:58) were the slowest winning times in the Boston Marathon in 40 and 42 years, respectively. You should pay this no mind—given the brutal rain and headwinds in which the race was run, and given the shocking fact of each of those wins, who gives a shit? This is a cool outcome, and you should enjoy it.


Let’s do Kawauchi first:

  • He’s a government employee in Japan who doesn’t run professionally and has a full-time job.
  • This was at least his 71st competitive marathon since the beginning of 2012—averaging just under one a month. Overall, he’s run in at least 81 marathons.
  • He’s run 26 of them faster than 2:12 and 79 of them under 2:20. Both of those numbers are world records.
  • In January, Kawauchi ran a 2:18:59 marathon in Marshfield, Massachusetts in one-degree weather. He was the only finisher.
  • That race gave him the most marathons ever run under 2:20; he finished two more between then and Boston. (Obviously he was the only one of his competitors to have already run a marathon this year. Today was his fourth of 2018.)
  • The NYPD mysteriously clipped him in the 2014 New York City Marathon.
  • Today in Boston he beat defending world and Boston champion Geoffrey Kirui, and defending Chicago champion and all-around stud Galen Rupp. No one finished within two minutes of him.

But that was a squeaker compared to what Desi Linden did to the women’s field. She wasn’t just the first American woman to win in 33 years, although she was that. Linden fucking crushed the field by more than four minutes. Those four minutes, if this makes any sense, seemed to come all at once. Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia held a large lead at 20 miles. Then she died on the hills of the 21st mile, splitting 6:53 and essentially ending her day. Both Linden and Gladys Chesir of Kenya caught Daska, and then Linden dropped Chesir and made history.

Among the women that Linden beat so handily were defending champ Edna Kiplagat, and Americans Shalane Flanagan and Molly Huddle. Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in November, and Huddle hadn’t lost to an American woman on the roads at any distance since 2012. If any U.S. woman was primed to end the drought, it was those two.

And early on, it seemed like Linden felt the same way. She told an interviewer on the broadcast that she felt so bad early on that she figured she’d do what she could to help an American win. When Shalane Flanagan sprinted off the course for a bathroom break roughly 12 miles in, it was Linden who hung back and waited for Flanagan before helping her re-catch the pack. A little more than an hour later, Linden had the title wrapped up.


The 34-year-old Linden has always gunned for Boston, and mostly shown up on Marathon Monday. She finished an agonizing second in 2011, missing a win by just two seconds, and has finished fourth twice since then; she was seventh at the Olympic marathon in 2016.

In other news, Galen Rupp got his ass beat, badly, and dropped out. Complete results are here.

New Orleans-based writer and editor