Chula Vista woman first American to win Boston Marathon’s women’s division in more than 30 years
BOSTON – For the first time since 1985, an American woman won the Boston marathon — and she’s from Chula Vista.
Desiree Linden, a two-time Olympian, battled the rain and wind Monday to win the storied race. It’s also the first win of the 34-year-old’s career. She crossed the finish line in just under two hours and 40 minutes.
The athlete, who goes by “Des,” is a 2001 graduate of Hilltop High School, where was known by her maiden name of Davila. She attended Arizona State University, where she was a two-time All-American in track and cross country, and currently lives and trains in Michigan.
She told an interviewer after the race that she considered dropping out early on after slowing her pace and dropping behind the elite group of women runners at the front of the pack. She slowed to wait for fellow American Shalane Flanagan, who took a brief restroom break.
“Honestly, at mile two, three, four, I didn’t feel like I was even gonna make it to the finish line,” Linden told NBC Sports. “I told (Flanagan) during 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 going to happen. Helping her helped me, and I kinda got my legs back from there.”
Linden finished strong in the cold, wet conditions that slowed the field, pulling away from the elite women’s group with a 6:09 mile at mile 22. She said the elements suited her.
“It hurts right now, but it’s a perfect day for me,” Linden told an interviewer after the race. “I can tough it out through anything.”
Earlier this month, Linden tweeted that “some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: keep showing up.”
In 2011, Linden finished second, just 2 seconds behind Caroline Kilel. She also was second at the US Olympic Marathon trials in 2012. Linden finished fourth in the Boston Marathon last year.
Earlier in the race, Linden temporarily took herself out of contention to help fellow American Shalane Flanagan. Flanagan dropped out of the lead pack to go to a portable toilet. Showing tremendous sportsmanship, Linden hung back to wait for Flanagan so they could both return to the lead pack together.
She made the U.S. Olympic team in 2012 and 2016. At her first Olympic Games in London, she was unable to finish the marathon because of a femur stress fracture. In Rio de Jainero in 2016, she finished 10th.
Last year, Linden finished fourth in Boston with a time of 2:25:06, finishing about three minutes behind the winner. The wet conditions this year slowed down the field — Sports Illustrated reported that it was 38 degrees at the start of the race, with wind gusts up to 18 mph. Linden’s winning time clocked in 18 minutes slower than last year’s winning mark.
Before Linden, the last American woman to win the Boston Marathon was Lisa Rainsberger in 1985.
The last American man to win Boston was Meb Keflezighi, in 2014.