NEW YORK — It’s not uncommon for elite runners to take as many as six weeks off from running after a grueling marathon.
Then there is Shalane Flanagan, 40, the New York City Marathon champion in 2017, who did the opposite. With all six of the world’s major marathons packed into as many weeks this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, Flanagan saw an opportunity to do something extraordinary. She decided to run them all — Berlin, London, Chicago, Boston, Tokyo and New York — in under three hours each.
Flanagan, who is retired from professional running, traveled roughly 10,000 miles round-trip with her toddler son for Berlin and London. She ran Chicago and Boston on back-to-back days. Organizers ultimately canceled the Tokyo race, but Flanagan still ran a marathon on her own near her home in Oregon two weeks ago to make up for it. Her slowest time was in Chicago, which she completed in 2 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds. She completed three of the races in under 2:40, including an extremely fast 2:35:04 in London.
But she saved the best for last, finishing in 2:33:32 in New York.
Flanagan, a coach with Nike’s Bowerman Track Club in Portland who has had two reconstructive knee surgeries, has finally completed her quest, one that seemed ridiculous when she first went public with it.
Ridiculous, that is, to everyone except her.