There was a point during Monday’s Boston Marathon when women’s champion Desiree Linden thought she wasn’t going to finish the race.
“The weather was brutal,” Linden said on the “Today” show Tuesday morning. “Early on, it didn’t feel like it was going to be my day. My hands were freezing. My body was tightening up.”
Linden said it was possible for runners to injure themselves in such cold, rainy, and windy conditions. Having mentally conceded that finishing the race might be out of reach for her, Linden told “Today” she shifted her attention to trying to help fellow American Shalane Flanagan succeed.
Linden said she tapped Flanagan early on and shared her plans: “Hey, I think I’m going to drop out today, so if you need any help with anything, let me know. I’m happy to block the wind, whatever it may be.”
Flanagan, a Marblehead native, told “Good Morning America” Tuesday morning that she was “shocked” when Linden expressed her intention.
“I think I grabbed her shoulder and was like, ‘Are you OK?’ And she was like, ‘Nah, I just don’t feel good,'” Flanagan said. “But I’m so happy she just stuck with it. Kind of having each other and having a great American field really fueled us to keep going.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 17, 2018
Their unity was on full display when Linden decided to wait for Flanagan while she made a pit stop to go to the bathroom about halfway through the course.
“We didn’t go to the bathroom together in pairs or anything like that,” Linden told “Today.” “But I did slow down and looked back and kind of made sure we could work together to make it back to the group, which hadn’t really pulled away. We just needed help to get each other back to the group and block the wind, so I was happy to do it.”
Linden went on to become the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years, finishing with a time of 2:33:41. Not only was the Boston Marathon Linden’s first major marathon in 2007, but it was also a race she nearly won in 2011. She missed out on the victory by a margin of two seconds.
“It’s a special city,” Linden told “Today” of Boston. “There’s so much history there. If you do it long enough, you go through the highs and the lows — just like life. We celebrate the good days. We remember the tough days. It’s all part of the history.”
Gallery: The Boston Marathon through the years