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BOSTON (CBS) – Shalane Flanagan was born to run.
So it should come as no shock that it’s the Marblehead native’s dream to run the Boston Marathon. And she’ll be living that dream come April 15.
“I’ve dreamed of this moment, toeing the line in Hopkinton since I was a little girl,” Flanagan told WBZ-TV from Denver. “I watched the Boston Marathon religiously.”
Flanagan was born to running parents, so running is in her blood. While growing up in Marblehead she played soccer and swam, but late in her grade school career a simple fitness test in gym class changed everything.
The kids had to run a mile for a physical fitness test, and Flanagan realized how much fun running was.
“I beat all the boys in my school and I thought ‘I kind of like this; I like beating boys,’” she said with a huge smile across her face. “That’s really where that spark was lit, in grade school.”
From there, her love grew and grew – as did the distances she ran. For Marblehead High, she finished first in an All-State mile race, and set a record for the two-mile race at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships.
“Marblehead High was a great experience. I had a great support system and some great coaches. It really set the stage to catapult me towards the next level, and it’s where my love of running really began.”
That was just a starting point for Flanagan. She’s gone on to enjoy success in every stride she’s taken.
She won national cross country titles in 2002 and 2003 at the University of North Carolina. She took home a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing for the 10,000 meter, becoming just the second American woman to win an Olympic medal in the event. She made her marathon debut in the 2010 New York Marathon, finishing second. She followed that up by winning the US Olympic Trials in Houston in 2012, and went on to finish 10th in the Women’s Marathon in the 2012 games in London.
Now she her sights set on an even bigger prize in her mind. This year, Flanagan will take on the Boston Marathon — her hometown race — for the very first time.
Growing up in Marblehead, it’s a race she’s seen plenty of times in person, and has some family experience to build off of.
“My favorite was when my dad competed. I remember watching him coming to the finish and being so proud and so amazed.”
Flanagan has gotten plenty of tips from her dad and her training partner, fellow American Kara Goucher who will be back for her third Boston Marathon this April.
Shalane is also counting on many familiar faces along the course to help her get through the 26.2 mile trek.
“I can dig just a little bit deeper knowing that at mile 20 I’ll see my dad or my mom. It just brings a lot more motivation,” she said. “To run in front of people who have known me since I was little, it’s going to be very emotional and special to share what I love.”
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But that inspiration won’t come just from the sidelines. Shalane’s sister Maggie, an ultra-marathoner, is also running on Patriots’ Day.
“Just knowing when I take off on that course, knowing that my sister is running behind me – taking the same roads, going through the same experiences – it means the world to me,” she said.
Shalane Flanagan has set records and stood at an Olympic podium, but Boston is what it’s all about for this runner. And make no mistake; while she’s thrilled to be running her first Boston Marathon, her goal is to become the first American to win the race in nearly 30 years.
“I absolutely think I have a shot at winning,” she said confidently. “What a better place to perform and win than my home course.”
“To me, the Boston Marathon is just pouring your heart out. I’ll be thinking not to give an inch and own the course – just pour everything I have into that performance that day,” she said.
Tune in to the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 on WBZ-TV, the only station with start-to-finish coverage of the race!