The three U.S. Olympians commit to the annual Patriots’ Day race next April.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
The three American woman who will run the 2012 Olympic Marathon in London –Desiree Davila, Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher– will run the 2013 Boston Marathon, John Hancock Financial announced today. The announcement comes more than nine months before the April 15, 2013 event, and may be the earliest-ever elite athlete announcement for a major marathon.
“Shalane, Desiree, and Kara have competed against the most talented women in the world with amazing results,” said Rob Friedman, head of Sponsorship and Event Marketing at John Hancock, through a media release. “The Olympics and the 2013 Boston Marathon should be no different. As individuals these women are fierce competitors, and as a team they prove themselves relentless. With Desiree and Kara previously making the podium in Boston and Shalane winning the Trials, they are sure to provide the millions of Boston Marathon fans with a race to remember.”
Both Davila and Goucher have competed at Boston before. Davila finished 18th in her Boston debut in 2007 in 2:44:56, then roared back in 2011 to finish second in 2:22:38, the fastest-ever performance by an American woman at the race. Goucher made the Boston podium in 2009, taking third in 2:32:25. She was also fifth in 2011 in 2:24:52. Both women are clearly excited to return to Boston.
“I’m honored and excited to be invited back to Boston as part of the John Hancock elite team,” Davila commented through a statement. “After coming so close to the ‘W’ in 2011, I’ve been anxious and excited about returning to Boston and taking another crack at it.”
Goucher chimed in: “The Boston Marathon is an historical gem. To be a part of this history excites me and drives me to train harder. I absolutely love the city of Boston and its Marathon. They have embraced me as one of their own. This will be my third trip to Boston and I will use my past experiences to help me get it right this time. I’m hoping that the third time will be the charm.”
Flanagan’s participation is likely to generate the most buzz locally. The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000m, and the 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials champion, was born and raised in nearby Marblehead and it was widely known that she really wanted to run Boston.
“I watched the Boston Marathon religiously growing up and always dreamed about running from Hopkinton to Boston, racing down Boylston Street to the finish,” Flanagan told Hancock officials. “I finally get the chance to fulfill this dream next April. I can’t wait to give Boston everything I have. I know the love and support will be overwhelming and-in typical Boston style-loud. I’m thrilled to become part of this rich Patriots’ Day tradition.”
An American woman has not won the Boston Marathon since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985. Davila came the closest in recent years in 2011 when she was edged by Kenya’s Caroline Kilel by two seconds in the final sprint on Boylston Street.
“The experience from the 2011 Boston Marathon was a big turning point,” Davila commented. “I now believe I have the tools and the ability to compete and contend for the title at a major marathon. To have that confidence along with a team of coaches that really know how to prepare athletes for the Boston Marathon should pay huge dividends come spring 2013.”
Recruiting the entire USA Olympic Women’s Marathon Team is a big coup for Hancock and the Boston Athletic Association which founded, owns and organizes the race. Because the 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials were held in January of this year, Boston wasn’t able to recruit top Americans because their race came just three months later. Signing these three athletes more than makes up for that.
“Thanks to John Hancock Financial, which assembles the elite athlete field for us, next year’s Boston Marathon will have a decidedly American feel to it,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. executive director through a statement. “All of us at the B.A.A. and in Boston will be watching the Olympic Marathon this summer, and we’re anxious to see how the Americans fare in London. We wish them luck, and we are already eagerly anticipating the heightened exposure and attention these women will receive as members of Team USA, and the added interest they will bring to the 2013 Boston Marathon next spring.”