Desi Linden leading the Boston Marathon
Photo: Jennifer McDermott (AP)

The men’s and women’s races at Monday’s Boston Marathon were won by two of the unlikeliest people. Desi Linden was the first American woman to win Boston since the race became fully professional in 1986; the men’s race was won by Yuki Kawauchi, who isn’t really a professional. (He has a full-time government job in Japan and doesn’t take sponsorship money because of his occupation.) The results below those two were even more bizarre, thanks in part to cold rain and a headwind that blew in the runners’ faces for nearly the entire race.

Consider:

  • No Kenyans finished in the the top eight; the defending champion finished ninth in 2:47, the slowest marathon she’s run in the last decade by more than ten minutes.
  • The next most likely woman to win, Molly Huddle, who hadn’t lost to an American woman in six years, finished 16th and said after the race that she needed an emergency root canal.
  • The next most likely woman to win, Shalane Flanagan, who won the New York City Marathon in November, took an emergency bathroom break 12 miles in and said after the race that she was so out of it mentally that she thought she was winning. She finished seventh.
  • The next most likely woman to win, Jordan Hasay, withdrew the night before the race.
  • The runner-up was a nurse from Tucson* who paid her own entry fee, bought her own shoes, and won $75,000.
  • The fourth-place finisher is a 31-year-old high school Spanish teacher and former Division III runner. She won $25,000.
  • The fifth-place finisher, well...it’s unclear who finished fifth. Jessica Chichester, a 31-year-old nurse practitioner who sounds like a Michael Schur character, ran the fifth-fastest time of the day, but she started with the masses and not the elites. The BAA has yet to comment on whether the fifth-place $15,000 will go to her or the fifth-fastest elite starter, Nicole DiMercurio, who is herself a relative unknown. Chichester told her hometown newspaper after the race that starting with the normies meant that “I had to dodge puddles and thousands of people, which was a challenge.”

That was just the women’s race! Both races had elite athletes dropping out, particularly ones from Kenya and Ethiopia who typically dominate major marathons. (Athletes from those two countries have run all 65 of the 65 fastest marathons ever.) The field was peppered with DNFs:

That’s the seven fastest men in the field and four of the six fastest women wisely saying “Hmm, no,” at some point after getting lashed by wind, rain, and cold for a bit. Not for nothing: The very biggest names in those fields, like Galen Rupp, command six-figure appearance fees that don’t get paid out in full if the athlete doesn’t finish.

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The men’s field was slightly deeper, so there were no accountants or bloggers in the top 10 except for the winner who, again, is an unsponsored high school administrator in Japan who races a marathon every month or so and had never won a major before Monday. He’s racing a half marathon in Japan in five days. Even though some of the elites couldn’t handle the ice-cold rain and nasty headwind, Kawauchi said at the post-race presser that he was fine with it. “For me, these were the best conditions possible.”