Shalane Flanagan experienced last year’s Boston Marathon from a perspective that stoked a mix of emotions. She was honored to be on the sky bridge with the WBZ broadcast team, and her unique insight was a bright spot for those watching.
But Flanagan knew her true place was on the historic course from Hopkinton to Boston, somewhere she hadn’t been since 2015.
Flanagan missed consecutive Boston Marathons because of the Olympics in 2016 and a back injury last year. After a win at the New York City Marathon last November, the 36-year-old from Marblehead returns Monday as a favorite to win the 122nd running of the race — a victory that would be the first for an American woman since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach in 1985.
“I sat on the sky bridge, commentating for the race . . . to me that was a gut check,” Flanagan said Friday. “Next year, do I want to be in this position or be part of the race? That was a motivating factor. I said I have to come back no matter what happens and have at least one more go at it.”
The forecast for Monday is for heavy rain and wind — cruel conditions for runners. Flanagan trained in Colorado Springs before returning to her home in Portland, Ore., where the frequent rainy weather can serve as a helpful training tool for Monday’s expected conditions.
“It’s a very unpredictable event, but if you can dial in all the details, then even on my bad days I’ll have decent days,” Flanagan said.
Winning New York was a major accomplishment for Flanagan because it capped her comeback from the back injury and was her first world marathon major victory.
Returning to an elite training level so soon was a grueling task. Flanagan had to cut out extracurricular activities, such as when she opted to return to Portland and resume training rather than appear on the “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” after the New York race.
Regardless of the result Monday, Flanagan said this will be her last Boston Marathon as a member of the John Hancock Elite Team. A victory would be overwhelmingly satisfying.
“I’m a really happy person right now,” Flanagan said. “I feel like I knocked off a huge goal of mine when I won a major marathon and I’m really at peace with my career.
“Coming here and racing is more of a personal event for me and definitely more emotional. This is where I grew up, these are the people who raised me, and this is where I fell in love with running.”
Rupp eyes victory
American Galen Rupp returns for his second Boston Marathon following a second-place finish in 2017. He was 21 seconds behind Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui, and the thrill of running in Boston motivated him to return.
“It’s always been about winning,” Rupp said. “This race is much more special. It’s the most prestigious marathon in the world and I remember crossing the finish line last year, and the first thing I thought was, ‘I need to come back here.’
“There’s something truly special about this race, this whole weekend, and its place in American running lore.”
An American has won the men’s division just once since 1983, when Meb Keflezighi took the title in 2014 — an emotional win the year after the bombing.
Kenyans and Ethiopians have dominated the field since Alberto Salazar and Greg Meyer won consecutive races in 1982 and 1983.
Salazar is head of the Nike Oregon Project, the training program Rupp and American woman Jordan Hasay are in. According to a Globe report published Thursday, antidoping authorities are investigating the program.
Rupp, who won the Chicago Marathon in October, said the potential distraction had not crossed his mind.
“We addressed those allegations several years ago and moved on from that,” Rupp said. “Our focus has been on Boston since then.”
Do it again?
A men’s champion has not repeated at Boston since Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot won three consecutive races from 2006-08. Kirui hopes to do it Monday and improve on his winning time of 2:09:37 from last year. “I’m going to try my best,” Kirui said. “I will try my best to run the way I was preparing myself.” . . . This year’s elite team features one of the deepest American groups in recent memory, particularly in the women’s division. Typically, two or three anchor the elite team, but this year Flanagan, Hasay, Molly Huddle, Deena Kastor, and Desiree Linden all could challenge. Hasay finished third last year . . . A total of $830,500 will be distributed to the top finishers, with up to an extra $220,000 if records are set . . . Maryland runner Bennett Beach is running his 51st consecutive Boston Marathon, the longest active streak. John A. Kelley, who died in 2004, completed 58 marathons but not consecutively.