On Monday, former Ducks Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay will toe the starting line of the 122nd Boston Marathon in Hopkinton with dreams of golden wreaths awaiting them at the finish line. This year’s field is absolutely stacked with talent, especially on the women’s side.
In 2014, Men Keflezighi became the first American to win at Boston since Greg Meyer in 1983. However, the women's drought is still active. An American woman hasn't won at Boston since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach back in 1985. But this year’s field is so loaded with talent, it could be the best chance yet that we’ve seen for an American woman to break the tape.
American Women’s Preview
The women’s field includes American record holder Deena Kastor, Jordan Hasay, Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Linden, Sara Hall and Molly Huddle, all who could team up to get one of them to the top spot on the podium.
Shalane Flanagan is the hometown favorite, and all eyes will be on her this Monday. Back in November, Flanagan captured the hearts of the nation when she won the 2017 New York City Marathon, becoming the first American woman to win there since 1977. She nearly retired after the win, but she decided to return to her home course one last time to take care of unfinished business.
Kastor holds the fastest time in the American women’s field at 2:19:36, which is still the American record. Kastor set the American women’s masters record at the 2015 Chicago Marathon, running 2:27:47.
Among the contenders, Hasay holds the fastest recent time in the field with a PR of 2:20:57 from the 2017 Chicago Marathon, which is the second-fastest time on the American list behind Kastor. Last year, Hasay set an American debut record with her 2:23:00 performance at the Boston Marathon, finishing third. Hasay is the future of American marathoning, and with Monday’s weather forecast (more on that below), she’ll be feeling right at home.
American Men’s Preview
On the men’s side, Galen Rupp looks ready to compete for the Boston Marathon crown, one year after coming within 21 seconds of victory. At last year’s race, Rupp hung on with Geoffrey Kirui up until the 24th mile. It was then that Kirui threw down a surge move that Rupp wasn’t able to answer. After that performance, Rupp went on to win the 2017 Chicago Marathon in a time of 2:09:20, using his lethal 10K speed to pull away from the field.
Abdi Abdirahman holds the fast time in the field for the American men at 2:08:56. Age is nothing but a number for the 41-year old, who took third at the New York City Marathon last fall. A win at Boston would put the four-time Olympian among some of the greatest American marathoners in history.
There is also Ryan Vail, who comes in with a personal best of 2:10:57 from the 2014 London Marathon. Most recently, Vail finished eighth at the 2017 Berlin Marathon with a time of 2:12:40. This will be Vail’s first time at Boston, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does on all the hills compared to the flats of Berlin and London where he’s seen success.
Oh yeah, the weather. Boston is notorious for unpredictable weather, and it’s usually something drastically different each year. For context, “ideal” marathon weather is somewhere around 45-50 degrees with some clouds, low humidity and little to no wind, which you’d want at your back or side if you did have to deal with wind.
Monday’s current forecast calls for temperatures in the mid 40’s to mid 50’s with a 100% chance of rain and a high chance of strong winds. The best forecast I’ve seen is 48 degrees with a light drizzle and a crosswind at 10-20 mph coming from the southeast (coming from the right, going to the left in the perspective of the runners). The worst forecast I’ve seen includes a 20 mph win coming from the east, hitting the runners straight on. But New England weather is just as unpredictable as the weather in Oregon, so things could change at any point, even in the hours leading up to the race.
Much like the heat, this kind of forecast pretty much puts an equalizer on the field as everyone will have to deal with it together. So even if someone doesn’t have the fastest time in the field or has never won a major marathon, if they can handle the rain, they can do well on Monday.
Fortunately, many of the Americans, including Rupp and Hasay, are experts when it comes to having to run in the rain. I guarantee you that both Rupp and Hasay have logged multiple workouts in similar conditions while training in Oregon this winter. It’s not ideal, but the two of them are possibly better prepared than anyone in the field.