Boston, MA – According to Race director Dave McGillvray, 30,087 entered the 2018 Boston Marathon. 27,362 picked up their bib numbers. 27,042 started, and 95.5% of them finished, 25,882.  Another testament to the perseverance of the running community and especially the Boston qualifiers. One athlete showed particular, long term perseverance.

Des with John Hancock VP Rob Friedman and the fruits of her victory.

John Lennon wrote “Instant Karma”, and in her sixth try on the olde race course Des Linden experienced it yesterday. 

“I felt very bad early on,” the 2018 Boston Marathon women’s champion admitted at Tuesday morning’s press conference. “My gloves were saturated, I was making rookie mistakes. The day was setting up to be a disaster. So I thought, there was so much hype for the American women, let me help these guys out as long as I can.”

That’s why Des waited when Shalane Flanagan ducked into a porta-john between 11-12 miles as the course entered Wellesley. The pack was still only running 6:00 miles, so you could do your business and still have time to catch back up with a little help from a friend.

Then, when Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska pulled away with a 5:31 14th mike, fastest of the day so far, Des thought she could help Molly Huddle bridge the gap by breaking the wind for her. Because that’s what compatriots do, even if they are opponents, too.

“But when I turned around, I saw I was pulling away from everyone. Everybody was having a tough day. And I figured this was still the quickest way to get home, even if I blew up.”

She never did blow up, just blew by, first Daska after Kenya’s Gladys Chesir took the lead at the top of Heartbreak Hill. Then she blew by Chesir in the Haunted Mile between 21-22 as the course passed the Evergreen Cemetery.  All that was left were four miles, and a million memories.

“I grew up on this course. I’ve had every experience in Boston, my debut (2007, 18th in 2:44), my breakthrough (2nd in 2011), the heartbreak of the (Olympic) Trials (2008). As a rookie (2007) I remember walking through the BAA museum, and they said,’one day we may want your shoes’. So the BAA, Hancock, the people of Boston, they are like family. This isn’t just a 26.2 mike race, this is THE Marathon. That’s what I was thinking when I broke the tape.

“This one was blood, sweat, and tears. Last year (4th, 2:25:07) I thought, ‘I want to break that tape, and I don’t think I can do it. I’m just wasting my time. Then a few months went by and I reconsidered. Maybe I can.”

And YES, she did. It was meant to be. Friend, compatriot and now champion. It was instant Karma.



  1. One of my all time favorite runners. Not the “most talented”, unless you call guts, perseverance, and intelligence talent, which I do. Can I say she’s from the Joan Samuelson school of running? And great, worthy validation for her team, again, not a big time wealthy one. Old school, hard core, blue collar work ethic, perfect for Boston, and now an epic part of that history. And Desi overcame the leisure life provided by ASU 🙂 Ok, seriously, also a great feather in the cap of a distance running program that also not top tier.

  2. Desi showed her character and putting the results of Team USA over just her own misery by waiting for Shalane. Was it bold or foolish or just that she knew that the Marathon was more just a run than a race at that point.
    Desi’s race, including the support she showed for her Olympic teammates Shalane AND Molly Huddle, is one for the history books. Toni, I cannot wait to read more of your insightful reviews of this race, and let’s all tip one to Desi.

  3. Hindsight not withstanding (I did have Desi 3rd OA in a prediction contest), Desi was indeed a surprise. Forgetting for a moment the elite East African field, she was arguably only the third or fourth betting favorite of just the American contingent. But as I argued days before the race, those completely discounting her chances, were not looking at the big picture. The weather forecast was miserable & getting worse by the day. Desi knows that course better than anyone save maybe Shalane. And she’s just so damn a sturdy runner that you knew she was going to be a tough out. Speaking of karma, as hard as I was rooting for her at the start, after the stunt she pulled with Shalane at the port-a-potty, I was doubly invested. By the way, it was interesting to note that a greater % of the women’s field completed the race than the men’s. And that of the 10 elite Kenyan & Ethiopian runners to toe the start line, only Kirui & Sambu were able to finish the race. One for the ages!

  4. Des Linden was no surprise, Toni, despite not being one of the pre-race favorites by most media. She has been consistently in the Top 10 although her best so far was her first one back in 2011 in which she finished 2nd place…and that can sometimes be a real curse. The weather conditions were the worst I have ever seen for a major marathon. I am not sure but I feel it was worse than the opposite conditions experienced by the runners in the super hot 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon in LA or in the Chicago Marathon that eventually was stopped due to heat/humidity and failing water supplies on the course. Usually, cooler conditions would be more favorable than heat… but nothing could be considered “favorable” about temps under 40 degrees with driving rain and wind gusts up to 30 mph. There was no “fun” to be found out on the race course yesterday!

    I just felt so bad for all the participants who had trained for 3-6 months for this one race. (I wonder how many elite runners or their agents checked on flight connections to London?) I admire all who persevered through the marathon yesterday to finish. It turned into a race of attrition rather than a race of condition! The fact that Desi fought through self doubt and considering dropping out in the first half of the race shows she is only human…but her eventual victory should be a morale lesson for all of us. And I’m sure it will be talked about for years to come.

    Finally, I can hardly wait for your take on the women who finished behind Desi… especially 2nd place finisher Sarah Sellers whose story, if true, is every bit as legendary as Desi’s! I mean, who can even dream this stuff up? Sarah’s running and life lesson should be every bit as inspiring as Desi’s… for all of us… but especially the women runners who don’t have a sponsor right now. Some of the women just behind her were also inspiring stories… to include Nicole Dimercurio who got 6th place from the 2nd wave!?! I guess it is only fitting with the rapid improvement in women’s running in America now that they could be some of the best post-race stories coming out of Boston..

    1. My mistake! The hopeful prize money winner out of the 2nd wave was actually Jessica Chichester who finished 5th and was discovered only through chip timing. I bet this will be discussed in the next major road race directors conference! My apologies to Jessica as well as heartiest congratulations!

    1. Imagine the enormity of it all if Linden pulled out?
      Has the BAA reported the BQ percentage from yesterday?

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