Rivals Are Key To Flanagan’s Confidence

Shalane Flanagan on her way to a second-place finish at the 2010 New York City Marathon. Photo: PhotoRun.net

The top American marathoner has faced off against Olympic favorites.

From: NYRR Media

In a Google + “Hangout” video interview on Friday, Shalane Flanagan said that her runner-up performance in the 2010 ING New York City Marathon, which was her debut at the distance, gives her great confidence going into the Olympic Games.

“New York is one of the toughest ones, so I wanted to go in, throw myself to the world and see if I could survive,” Flanagan said, citing the fact that neither the New York race nor the Olympics uses pacesetters. “And I did. But what’s great is [that] the women I was surrounded by are the top women I will be facing in London. I have Edna Kiplagat, who won, and Mary Keitany, who finished right behind me. To me, that’s just great company to be in.”

Kiplagat and Keitany, both from Kenya, are considered among the favorites to win a gold medal in the women’s Olympic Marathon on August 5. In 2010, Kiplagat won in New York in 2:28:20, followed by Flanagan in 2:28:40 and Keitany in 2:29:01.

The “Hangout,” hosted by reporter Ken Belson of the New York Times, was the first of three scheduled this week that will feature U.S. Olympic Marathon athletes. In addition to Flanagan, it featured recreational runner Bob Sherman, who has run the New York City Marathon 29 times, and Mary Wittenberg, NYRR president and CEO.

In webcasts this week, Ryan Hall is set to appear today at 5:00 p.m. EDT, and Kara Goucher has been lined up for Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. EDT. More information is available here.

Hall, who plans to run the ING New York City Marathon on November 4, was the subject of a major story in yesterday’s New York Times written by Jeré Longman, who chronicled Hall’s commitment to faith-based coaching.

In her video interview, Flanagan, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 meters, said that she has run portions of the Olympic Marathon course “multiple” times, and called  the three-loop course “very, very tough.”

“Knowing what’s coming is a big advantage,” she said. “To me, it’s a cross country race basically, a cross country marathon. There are tons of turns, lots of little hills, there’s cobblestones, but the one thing I can guarantee is [that] the public is going to love it. It’s like a sight-seeing of London. But it’s going to be very challenging. That last eight miles is going to be a gut-wrenching last eight miles.”

Flanagan said that despite having competed in only two marathons—New York in 2010 and the U.S. Olympic Trials in January, which she won in a Trials record 2:25:38—she is certain that she has found her event. “I don’t have many marathons to haunt me yet, which could be a good thing,” she said. “I feel a lot of confidence going into London just knowing that I’ve been able to execute my past two marathons and it just confirms my belief this is what I was made to do, I was born to do, is run marathons.”

Wittenberg, in the video interview, predicted great things for Flanagan, citing the 31-year-old’s ability to contain her emotions and execute her race plan while shutting out distractions.

“We’ve been watching her like a train with the steam just picking up year after year after year, so I think that for Shalane this is just unbelievable timing for her to hit the Olympic marathon, and obviously we saw in New York her second place here in 2010 in her debut, where she just ran an unbelievably gutsy race, a smart race,” said Wittenberg. “As Shalane said, the marathon is really what she was born to do, and [she] is going to make a heck of a mark. And I’m going to go out there and say I think more of a mark …  probably since 1984 and Joan Benoit in LA. We’re going to see a heck of a race.”

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