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Olympian Shalane Flanagan invites you to race her in Marblehead

The medal-winning athlete will be in her hometown on Thanksgiving weekend to raise money to rebuild the track where she ran her first race.

Olympian Shalane Flanagan.
Olympian Shalane Flanagan.Laura Segall/Globe file

This story is featured in the Nov. 16 issue of the Magazine.

When my dad told me that he was helping build a new track in my hometown, I said, "What can I do?" I know running really well, and I'm passionate about running, especially youth running. Putting on a race is something that raises money for the track and gives people some motivation to be fit and healthy.

It's been four years since I've worked out on that track. And I'll be honest: It's because its condition is really bad. It's almost like you're better off running on the road. Once the new track is in, I'm excited to get home and do some real workouts there.

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My dad was trying to throw this idea out that I could try to go for a 5K American record on the roads [at the race]. I was like, "Dad, I have just come off a very luxurious break and I'm not fit whatsoever." There's been too many pastries involved. I will not be running for that.

I'm going to run with the masses; I get to mingle and interact with people as they're running. It's fun. I catch people off guard. They don't know I'm going to be in the back, and I run by.

The proposal is now for me to wear one of those GoPro cameras and give the experience of the race through my eyes. This virtual 5K is a way people can feel like they're connected to the event if they can't make it there. I've never run with a camera attached. My dad told me: "You better behave. This could be a viral thing." I'm like, "What would I do inappropriately?" You see extreme skiers with cameras or surfers. I don't think there are many runners doing it. So it could be kind of groundbreaking for road races.

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TO SIGN UP The Back the Track 5K Race and Walk is November 29 in Marblehead. 781-990-8685; marbleheadallsports.com

Interview has been edited and condensed.

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