Two-time Olympian Desiree Linden, an All-America during her Arizona State career, overcame rain and cold Monday to become the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years.
Linden, 34, fell to third in the second half of the 26.2-mile race then came back in the final six miles to win by more than four minutes in 2:39.54 for her first marathon victory.
The most recent American women’s winner before Linden was Lisa Rainsberger in 1985.
American Sarah Sellers was second in 2:44.05 and Canadian Krista Duchene third in 2:44.20. Seven women finished in the top 10 including Shalene Flanagan, sixth in 2:46.31. Linden slowed early in the race to wait on Flanagan, who had to make a bathroom stop.
In a post-race interview on NBC Sports Network, Linden said in the first few miles, “I didn’t feel I was even going to make it to the finish line.” She told Flanagan, “Anything I can do to help you, let me know. I might just drop out. If you work together, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Linden praised the Boston spectators: “This is a race that the entire city cares about. Everyone is invested. Even on a day like today when it’s pretty miserable out, people show up and embrace the race.
“I love this city. I love this course. I’m thrilled to be here and get it done.”
Linden ran cross country and track at ASU from 2001-05 before beginning what has become an exceptional professional career. She trains professionally in Michigan with the Hanson-Brooks Distance Project.
American Desi Linden won the famed Marathon with a time of 2:39:54.
USA TODAY Sports
She was second at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials but unable to finish at the London Games due to an injury. She was second again behind former ASU teammate Amy Cragg at the 2016 Olympic Trials and finished seventh at the Rio Games.
Linden was second at the Boston in 2011.
Cragg, also a two-time Olympian, was ninth at the Rio Olympics and bronze medalist in the marathon at the 2017 World Championships.
In the men’s race, Yuki Kawauchi of Japan won his first Boston Marathon in 2:15:54. The last Japanese man to win the Boston Marathon was Toshihiko Seko in 1987.
On the fifth anniversary of the finish line explosions that killed three and wounded hundreds more, Linden and Kawauchi led a field of 30,000 runners through a drenching rain, temperatures in the mid-30s and gusts of up to 32 mph on the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton.
In Copley Square, Crowds only partly thinned and muffled by the weather greeted Linden with chants of “U-S-A!”
Lisa Larsen Weidenbach’s 1985 victory was the last for an American woman – before the race began offering prize money that lured the top international competitors to the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon. Linden, a California native who lives in Michigan, nearly ended the drought in 2011 when she was outkicked down Boylston Street and finished second by 2 seconds during yet another Kenyan sweep.
But the East Africans who have dominated the professional era of the race had their worst performance in decades. Kirui was the only Kenyan in the top ten for the men’s race; defending champion Edna Kiplagat, who was ninth, helped prevent a shutout in the distaff division.
Hometown favorite Shalane Flanagan, a four-time Olympian and the reigning New York City Marathon champion, finished sixth after popping into a course-side portable toilet before the halfway point and falling behind the lead pack.
Marcel Hug of Switzerland earned his fifth wheelchair victory, pushing though puddles that sent the spray from their wheels into his eyes. American Tatyana McFadden, won the women’s wheelchair race for the fifth time, wore two jackets, with a layer of plastic between them and hand warmers against her chest.
“It was just tough, it was so freezing,” Hug said through chattering teeth as a volunteer draped a second towel around his shoulders. “I’m just very glad that I made it.”
The United States had seven of the top women finishers and six of the top men finishers.
Boston Marathon results
1. Yuki Kawauchi, Japan, 2:15:58.
2. Geoffrey Kirui, Kenya, 2:18:23.
3. Shadrack Biwott, U.S., 2:18:35.
4. Tyler Pennel, U.S., 2:18:57.
5. Andrew Bumbalough, U.S., 2:19:52.
6. Scott Smith, U.S., 2:21:47.
7. Abdi Nageeye, Netherlands, 2:23:16.
8. Elkanah Kibet, U.S., 2:23:37.
9. Reid Coolsaet, Canada, 2:25:02.
10. Daniel Vassallo, U.S., 2:27:50.
1. Desiree Linden, U.S., 2:39:54.
2. Sarah Sellers, U.S., 2:44:04.
3. Krista Duchene, Canada, 2:44:20.
4. Rachel Hyland, U.S., 2:44:29.
5. Jessica Chichester, U.S., 2:45:23.
6. Nicole Dimercurio, U.S., 2:45:52.
7. Shalane Flanagan, U.S., 2:46:31.
8. Kimi Reed, U.S., 2:46:47.
9. Edna Kiplagat, Kenya, 2:47:14.
10. Hiroko Yoshitomi, Japan, 2:48:29.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Desi Linden major marathons
2007: Boston, 12th, 2:44.56
2008: Chicago, 5th, 2:31.33
2009: Berlin, 10th, 2:27.53
2010: Chicago, 2nd, 2:26.20
2011: Boston, 2nd, 2:22.38
2012: U.S. Olympic Trials, 2nd, 2:25.55
2012: London Olympics, DNF
2013: Berlin, 5th, 2:29.15
2014: Boston, 9th, 2:23.54
2014: New York, 5th, 2:28.11
2015: Boston, 4th, 2:25.39
2016: U.S. Olympic Trials, 2nd, 2:29.00
2016: Rio Olympics, 7th, 2:26.08
2017: Boston, 4th, 2:25.06
2018: Boston, 1st, 2:39.54