On Nov. 5, 2017, Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since 1977.
Flanagan finished the race in two hours, twenty-six minutes and fifty-three seconds, finishing a full one minute ahead of three-time marathon champion Mary Keitany of Kenya. Flanagan is the first American woman to win the race in forty years, succeeding Miki Gorman who was 42 in 1977. Flanagan also became the first American runner to win the marathon since Meb Keflezighi won in 2009.
Flanagan’s race is considered significant due to her pace and finishing time. She finished one minute and one second before Keitany, which is a large time margin for professional and seasoned runners.
Speaking with USA Today, Flanagan shared that Keflezighi was her biggest motivator while running the marathon.
Flanagan said, “I wanted to make him proud today. I just thought, be like Meb as much as you can.”
Flanagan also told USA Today that she dedicated her victory to Keflezighi.
“That was for Meb,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan had suffered a back injury in January 2017 that forced her to take a ten-week running hiatus. Prior to her win, she had not run a marathon in over a year. Instead, she worked with coaches while recovering from her injury, and has stated that she trained with shorter workouts with longer runs to prepare for the race.
At thirty-six, Flanagan is considered to be a seasoned runner, who’s retirement could come shortly after her marathon win.
Kevin Augustine, senior marketing major, shared his thoughts on Flanagan’s win following the marathon. Augustine is on both the cross country and track teams at Saint Vincent.
Augustine said, “As a runner, it’s pretty inspirational to see somebody at that age compete at such a high level.”
Flanagan had also hinted before the race that the New York City Marathon would be her final professional race, stating that she would make a final decision if she did win.
After crossing the finish line, Flanagan spoke with the New York Times about the significance of her win. Describing the forty years that had passed since an American woman had run the race, she said, “Too long. Way too long.”
Flanagan also offered advice to female runners witnessing her historic win.
“My best advice? Stay patient,” she said.
“This is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl. It means a lot to me, to my family. Hopefully it inspires the next generation of women to just be patient. It took me seven years to do this. A lot of work went into this moment,” Flanagan said
In the running world, Flanagan has been an inspirational figure for many female runners. She broke and held national and world records for years during her college career.
Katie Maloney, senior biology major, is a runner on the Saint Vincent cross country team.
“I would say her win proves that through hard work and dedication, anyone can achieve anything they put effort into. It makes a statement for women runners everywhere,” Maloney said.
Kathryn Straatmann, a senior biology major and cross country runner, also finds inspiration in Flanagan.
“Shalane is an inspiring woman because it takes such mental strength, courage and endurance to accomplish what she did,” Straatmann said. “I truly admire her for going above and beyond through challenging physical and social boundaries. As a runner she helps me understand that I’m capable of doing more than I think I can. Hopefully other girls can see that women are capable of doing anything they set their minds to.”
News of Flanagan’s win quickly spread across social media after she crossed the finish line. Posts of support were shared by fellow runners, online running sites and celebrities. Many on social media noted the significance of an American female runner winning the race for the first time in forty years.
Olympic runner Des Linden tweeted her congratulations to Flanagan and said, “Thank you for giving us something to believe in.”
In a quote for ABC News, Flanagan said, “These are the moments we dream of as athletes. This is going to feel good for a really long time.”
Photos: Elsa, Getty Images; Seth Wenig, AP