BOSTON (CBS) – Desi Linden became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years Monday, ending a long U.S. drought on a rain-soaked day.
Linden, who at one point said she thought about dropping out, took the lead from Gladys Chesir of Kenya just before mile 22 and never looked back, despite the miserable conditions for runners who struggled with the pouring rain, cold and wind all day.
Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia held the lead for the much of the first 20 miles, but Chesir pulled even with her and took the lead briefly in the 21st mile around Boston College. Linden then made her move, passing Daska, then moments later overtaking Chesir for the lead and never giving it up.
Linden, 34, who lives in Michigan, finished second in Boston back in 2011, losing to Caroline Kilel by just two seconds.
The brutal conditions caused this to be the slowest women’s race since 1978. Linden won with a time of 2:39:54.
“Early on in the race I was feeling horrible,” Linden said at the post-race news conference. She said she told fellow American Shalane Flanagan, “I might drop out. There’s a good chance I’m going to drop out today. If you need something, block the wind, whatever, let me know.”
That’s when Linden said Flanagan nudged her and said she needed to use the bathroom.
“I was like, if it slows up great, if not I’ll try to tuck in and bring you back to the group and that was that,” Linden said.
The gesture of sportsmanship earned Linden even more praise on social media, with some calling it a moment of girl power. Before she knew it, Linden said she found herself in third place.
“I thought, well, I probably shouldn’t drop out,” Linden said, “So I kept going.”
Sarah Sellers of the U.S. finished second in 2:44:04. Flanagan, the New York City Marathon champion and Marblehead native, ended up finishing seventh in 2:46:31.
Linden had just enough left to raise the U.S. flag and run along the finish line area after the race to receive congratulations from the crowd.
“I’m thrilled. I’m exhausted. I left it all out there. Now I’m ready to warm up,” Linden told WBZ-TV’s David Wade. “It hurts right now, but it’s a perfect day for me. This is a grinder’s day. That’s why I keep showing up here, and I think that’s why I have success here is because I can kind of tough it out through anything. I just felt like it was survival out there. I have no idea how things fell behind me. I kind of wanted to get done and get a coffee and some breakfast.”