Shalane Flanagan, the Marblehead native who won the New York City Marathon in November, headlines a 2018 Boston Marathon elite American contingent that race sponsor John Hancock is calling its “strongest US Elite team since its principal sponsorship began in 1986.”
In November, Flanagan became the first American to win the New York City Marathon since 1977, and shortly afterward was asked if it would be her final race. She hinted in a Runner’s World interview that Boston had a strong pull for her.
“I feel like I would be pretty sad and it would not feel right if I was not on the starting line. If anything, I’m leaning toward that,” she told Runner’s World. “But it’s one thing to sit on my couch with a glass of wine and talk about it and another thing to actually start training again.”
Flanagan was unable to compete in the 2017 Boston Marathon because of an injury, and skipped the 2016 race because of that year’s Olympics, but has competed in Boston three times and holds the record for the fastest Boston time by an American woman.
Other top runners who are part of the John Hancock US Elite Team announced Monday are Galen Rupp, last year’s men’s runner-up in Boston; Jordan Hasay, the top American woman in 2017; Desiree Linden; Dathan Ritzenhein; Abdi Abdirahman; Deena Kastor; Molly Huddle; Shadrack Biwott; and Sara Hall.
“In the Boston Marathon’s 122-year history, one will be hard-pressed to find a more accomplished American field than the one John Hancock has established for 2018,” said Tom Grilk, CEO of the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Boston Marathon.
The American field has a number of significant accomplishments.
Rupp, whose second-place finish last April followed a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics, has since added a major victory to his résumé: the Chicago Marathon in October.
Linden, who was fourth in Boston in April and a close second in 2011, will compete for the sixth time.
Ritzenhein has the third-fastest marathon time ever by an American man: 2:07:47 in Chicago in 2012.
Hasay was third in both the Boston and Chicago marathons in 2017.
Hall won the US National Championships in 2017 and finished in the top 10 in two other marathons this year, Frankfurt and Tokyo. She is married to Ryan Hall, who was a top American competitor in Boston for several years.
Biwott, who was Rupp’s college teammate at Oregon, was fourth in Boston in April.
The 2018 Boston Marathon is on April 16. The rest of John Hancock’s US Elite Team is Serena Burla, Ryan Vail, Scott Smith, Kellyn Taylor, and Andrew Bumbalough.
Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter at @mattpep15.