Des Linden is attempting an impressive feat as the calendar turns to 2020.
The 2018 women’s Boston Marathon champion is simultaneously training for the 2020 Olympic Trials and the Boston Marathon. The Trials are Feb. 29 in Atlanta as Linden hopes to run in her third Games and the Marathon takes place on April 20.
All four 2019 Boston Marathon champions will return to Boston, as well. Open champions Lawrence Cherono and Worknesh Degefa, and wheelchair champions Manuela Schär and Daniel Romanchuk will look to defend their crowns, John Hancock and the Boston Athletic Association announced Tuesday.
Linden did not medal in the 2012 or 2016 Games and she’s using this opportunity to run two major marathons in the span of four months to end her career on a high note.
“I have the best job in the world and I’m kind of getting toward the end of my competitive years,” said Linden, 36. “I want to look back and say I gave 100 percent in both of those [events].”
Linden, if she qualifies for the Olympics, does not intend to use Boston solely as part of her training for Tokyo. She wants to compete to win Boston.
“Going to Boston, whether I’m on the team or not, I’m going to treat it as the most serious thing on my schedule,” she said. “I respect the race too much for that.”
The Olympic marathon will be held in Sapporo, Japan, Aug. 8. It was moved to the city, 500 miles north of Tokyo, due to heat concerns. Linden is not developing a new training regimen tailored specifically to running two marathons in four months. Meb Keflezighi, the men’s Boston Marathon champion in 2014, ran the New York City Marathon in Nov. 2011, won the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Jan. 2012, and finished fourth in the Olympic Marathon in August of that year. Keflezighi, unlike Linden, had almost a full calendar year in between races.
“A lot of [my training] was what we set in place last year. After Boston, all the way to August, I was in recovery mode,” Linden said. “It was just staying fresh, and then we built up to New York and then went from there.
“There’s no plan for this. We have to talk through it each week.”
Linden has two other marathon podium finishes on her résumé — second-place finishes at Boston in 2011 and Chicago in 2010. She finished seventh in the 2016 Olympic Marathon and described this year’s Olympic Trials as an internal battle between “the old guard and the new guard.” As her career winds down, she hopes to use this unprecedented attempt at a double marathon to prove she’s still one of America’s elite runners.
“It would be a really nice way to cap off a career. You have to be kind of realistic and approach each race with a sense of urgency,” Linden said. “Having a podium spot in Boston and then having a really good showing at the Games would be icing on the cake.”
There will be 11 additional champions seeking another win in Boston: open champions Yuki Kawauchi, Edna Kiplagat, Geoffrey Kirui, Lelisa Desisa, and Caroline Rotich; and wheelchair champions Tatyana McFadden, Marcel Hug, Ernst van Dyk, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, Joshua Cassidy, and Masazumi Soejima. Two-time Boston winner Desisa returns as the reigning world marathon champion.