Who says you can’t display impeccable sportsmanship and still come out on top? Look no further than 2018 Boston Marathon champion Desi Linden, who became the first American woman to cross the tape first at the historic race since 1985.
Early on in the cold and rainy race blasted by strong headwinds, Linden slowed down for fellow American runner and 2017 NYC Marathon winner, Shalane Flanagan, as she veered to the side of the course to use the restroom. Why? Linden wanted to help Flanagan catch up to the lead group.
“Honestly, at mile 2, 3, 4, I didn’t feel like I was even going to make it to the finish line,” Linden disclosed after posting a 2:39:54 finish time. “I told her [Flanagan] in the race, ‘If there’s anything I can do to help you out, let me know because I might just drop out.’ When you work together, you never know what’s gonna happen. Helping her helped me, and I kind of got my legs back from there.”
Shalane Flanagan’s detour to the port-a-potty. pic.twitter.com/lLLCyLhVYz
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) April 16, 2018
— Jared Ward (@jwardy21) April 16, 2018
The 14-second trip to the Porta Potty (yes, Flanagan was timed by reporters) may not seem like a huge chunk of time, but in the world of elite distance running, it can make all the difference.
However, united as one for at least a few minutes, Linden and Flanagan caught up to the front pack, and then Linden took over from there.
The 34-year-old two-time Olympian from Michigan took the lead at mile 22 and never looked back, except for maybe pulling some extra motivation from her second-place Boston finish in 2011, where she missed out on first by a mere two seconds.
Flanagan, meanwhile, ended up placing sixth with a time of 02:46:31 in a fierce women’s field.
According to race organizers, it was the coldest Boston Marathon in 30 years. Needless to say, Linden’s grand gesture has warmed the hearts of many.