An American woman hadn't won the New York City Marathon in 40 years — until now. Shalane Flanagan placed first on Sunday ahead of Kenyan Mary Keitany, who won the past three years, the New York Daily News reports.
The Olympic runner's unofficial time was 2:26:53. She and Keitany led the pack most of the race, but Flanagan was able to break ahead around the 23rd mile and maintain that lead until the end. As she crossed the finish line, becoming the first U.S. woman to take the title since Miki Gorman won in 1977, Flanagan broke into tears.
Last year, Kenyan runners won the top two women's spots, with American Molly Huddle coming in third. And Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor, a two-time half-marathon world champion, won the men's race this year.
Flanagan previously competed in the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics, winning a bronze medal in the 10,000-meter race in 2008 (which was later upgraded to silver after Turkish runner Elvan Abeylegesse's medal was rescinded due to a doping violation). In 2016, Flanagan placed sixth in the marathon, an improvement from 2012, when she placed 10th.
But Sunday was the 36-year-old's first big marathon victory.
Born in Colorado and growing up in Massachusetts, athletics ran in her family. In fact, her mother, Cheryl Treworgy, used to hold the American and world record in the marathon.
Treworgy told Runner's World in 2012 that her daughter's drive and determination helped her excel as a long-distance runner. "I think running gives her, as it does a lot of girls, a sense of power about what they can achieve in a society that doesn’t always offer that," Treworgy said. "She understands that in running she has a chance to attain her dreams."
In the same interview, her mother added: "Shalane can do it all. She’s probably got the best range of any U.S. runner ever."
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