HOPKINTON (CBS) – Will this be the year both an American woman and man win the Boston Marathon?
It hasn’t happened in 35 years. But, one of the strongest U.S. elite teams to run Boston in a long time will take off from Hopkinton Monday morning, hoping to write a new chapter in marathon racing.READ MORE: Former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia Sentenced To 6 Years In Prison
The 2018 team is led by New York City Marathon champion and Marblehead native Shalane Flanagan and also includes Chicago Marathon champion Galen Rupp in the men’s race. Rupp finished second in Boston last year with a time of 2:09:58. Back in November, Flanagan became the first American woman to win the New York Marathon since 1977. She has run Boston three times, but never won. Last year, the four-time Olympian joined WBZ-TV’s marathon broadcast team after an injury kept her from running the 2017 race.
The last time an American woman won Boston was back in 1985, when Lisa Larsen Weidenbach finished in 2:34:06. Meb Keflezighi is the last American to win the men’s race, back in 2014, breaking a victory drought that went back to 1983. That year was the last time both winners were from the United States. Greg Meyer took the men’s division in 2:09:00 and Joan Benoit Samuelson was the first woman to cross the finish line in 2:22:43.
Related: Boston Marathon Guide
Flanagan and Rupp are joined on the 2018 U.S. elite team by Olympians Desiree Linden, Dathan Ritzenhein, Abdi Abdirahman, Deena Kastor, and Molly Huddle. Huddle, who lives and trains in Providence, is a three-time winner of the New York City half marathon. Jordan Hasay, who set an American debut record of 2:23:00 with her third-place finish in Boston last April, dropped out of the race Sunday evening. She had just recovered from plantar fasciitis, but an MRI showed a stress reaction in her heel.
“I can’t wait to match up against this American crew. I think it’s going to be so fun. It’s the best group of Americans ever,” Linden, the 2011 Boston Marathon runner-up, told WBZ-TV last month. “I think it’s going to be our year. I don’t know who it will be, but the bodies are there to have the breakthrough.”
Flanagan, who’s 36, would not rule out that this year’s Boston Marathon could be the final race of her career.
“There definitely is a presence in my mind of starting a family. That’s very important to me,” she told WBZ. “I don’t know if Boston will be my last or not, but I’m going to go in with the intention that it could be.”
6 FORMER CHAMPIONS
The Americans will face a huge challenge from the international elite team, which will have six former champions returning Monday. Leading the way on the men’s side are 2017 winner Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya, 2016 champ Lemi Berhanu of Ethiopia and 2015 and 2013 winner Lelisa Desisa.
2017 women’s champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya will also be back to defend her title. Joining her on the women’s international team are 2014 Boston winner and course record holder Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia and 2015 champ Caroline Rotich of Kenya.
WHO TO WATCH
Keflezighi will be back as well on Monday, but not with the elites. The 2014 champion will run with Team MR8, which honors Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Keflezighi retired from competitive running following last year’s New York City Marathon, and finished 13th in the 2017 Boston Marathon.READ MORE: Gift Of Over $20 Million For Boston's Esplanade Would Fund New Visitors Center, Outdoor Spaces
Mary Shertenlieb, wife of Rich, whose voice you may know from the Toucher & Rich Show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, is running to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
And WBZ-TV will have three runners in this year’s race – chief meteorologist Eric Fisher, anchor-reporter Katie Brace and photographer-editor Phil Vaughn.
Thousands of men and women will run for local charities, which raised $34.2 million in last year’s race. This year, the Semper Fi Fund, which raises money for wounded veterans, became an official charity of the B.A.A. You might remember them from one of the most iconic images of the 2017 Boston Marathon – Marine Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez running towards the finish line on his prosthetic leg, carrying a huge American flag. Sanchez was running to support the Semper Fi Fund.
RACE DAY SCHEDULE
According to the Boston Athletic Association, there will be 30,000 runners this year, including more than 7,000 traveling from 98 countries outside the U.S. Everything will begin with the mobility impaired competitors starting at 8:40 a.m. in Hopkinton. They’ll be followed by the men’s and women’s wheelchairs and hand cycles before the elite women leave Hopkinton at 9:32 a.m.
Related: Mile-by-Mile Course Guide
The elite men will start at 10 a.m., which also marks the start of the four waves of runners. Each of those has about 7,500 men and women. The final wave is scheduled to leave at 11:15 a.m.
You might also notice a military relay along the 26.2 mile course. Sixteen service members will pass a baton to each other as they run the route to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Boston Marathon military relay. They will leave Hopkinton at 9:40 a.m.
Weather is likely going to be a factor in this year’s race. Runners and spectators can expect rain and wind.
Boston Marathon 2018 Forecast
For more information on the 2018 Boston Marathon, visit the B.A.A. web site.MORE NEWS: LOOK: Boston Street Becomes Snowy Set For Christmas Movie Shoot
WBZ-TV is the exclusive local broadcaster of the Boston Marathon. Pre-race coverage begins at 7 a.m. followed by race coverage at 9 a.m. WBZ-TV’s coverage will be streaming on CBSBoston.com beginning at 9 a.m. The stream is limited to New England.