MARBLEHEAD (CBS) — “It’s a proud day to be a Flanagan.” That is was written on a sign Steve Flanagan found on his doorstep as he returned home from watching his daughter win the 2017 New York City Marathon.
Shalane Flanagan, a Marblehead native became the first American woman to win the marathon there since 1977.
“It seals her legacy, it’s not enough to make four Olympic teams and be a silver medalist,” said Steve. “Lately, she’s a New York City Marathon winner, the first American woman in 40 years.”
Marblehead High School physical education teacher Mike Lavender still remembers Flanagan when she was just a local runner and former student.
Flanagan graduated from Marblehead High in 2000, and Lavender tells WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker that even then, she was a champion.
“She just seemed to win everything that she was in. State titles, national championship, and then obviously going to college,” he said. “She was always a super respectful kid, very good student, all-around great person.”
On display at the high school is Flanagan’s autographed warm-up jacket from the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, as well as a plaque honoring her bronze medal win.
She finished second in her first NYC marathon in 2010. An injury kept her from this year’s Boston Marathon–but Lavender said it’s not shocking that she’d come back and be a winner this fall despite the injury.
“I mean, she’s just amazing I guess at this point, nothing really surprises people around here,” he said.
Bill McCarthy, Flanagan’s first track coach in middle school, said she was undefeated even then.
“She finally reached her goals, she wanted to win a marathon. And she was determined and she did it,” he added.
Principal Dan Bauer beamed with pride about the local runner who now sits atop the world stage.
“It’s a great feeling of community pride, and certainly an event such as the New York Marathon is not only a national event but gets publicity around the world,” he said. “It’s great when a local does really well outside the community, it’s wonderful.”
Bauer said there could be another great athlete waiting in the wings at Marblehead High.
“We have great athletic programs, we have great coaches and great athletes and they do very well, and it would be nice to have somebody come up and be a role model for everybody, so you never know,” he said.
Locals said seeing a runner from their town on top of the world is something very special.
Amy, who will be running the Disney marathon in January, said she draws from what Shalane has been able to do.
“Perseverance, and I know she’s been injured in the past, and she came back to win New York, it’s awesome,” Amy said. “She’s an amazing runner.”
Bob isn’t a runner himself, but he follows those from the area who pursue their athletic dreams. He said it doesn’t surprise him that someone from around here would be a champion.
“You know, all North Shore people are hard-working people, and she fits right in the mold,” Bob said. “She worked hard, and she persevered over the years … it’s very exciting to see a local person that worked so hard do so well.”
Flanagan will be back in Marblehead the weekend after Thanksgiving to sign autographs and participate in a 5K raising money to renovate the town’s track.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports