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Desiree Linden Will Return To Defend Her Boston Marathon Title In 2019

Desiree Linden crosses the finish line to win the women's division of the 122nd Boston Marathon on April 16, 2018. Linden is the first American woman to win the race since 1985. (Elise Amendola/AP)
Desiree Linden crosses the finish line to win the women's division of the 122nd Boston Marathon on April 16, 2018. Linden is the first American woman to win the race since 1985. (Elise Amendola/AP)

Desiree Linden has conquered the Boston Marathon course at its most challenging. And she will be back to defend her title in 2019.

After battling freezing rain and buffeting headwinds in this year’s race, Linden became the first American winner of the women’s open division in 33 years. Linden will defend her title along with men’s open winner Yuki Kawauchi, women’s wheelchair winner Tatyana McFadden and men’s wheelchair winner Marcel Hug.

Principal race sponsor John Hancock and the Boston Athletic Association announced the return of the defending champions Monday morning.

“In 2007, I ran my first Boston Marathon,” Linden said in a statement. “I absolutely fell in love with the event, the course, the city, all of it. I thought I had every experience imaginable racing in Boston, but in 2019 I’m thrilled and proud to have another first as I’ll start the race as the defending Boston Marathon Champion.

“My 12 years of history in Boston have nothing on the 123 years of the event, but each year has made me love and appreciate it even more, and I can’t imagine racing anywhere else in April.”

Linden has competed in the Boston Marathon six times. In 2011, she dueled Kenyan Caroline Kilel down Boylston Street and finished two seconds shy of victory. She finished in a personal best 2 hours 22 minutes and 38 seconds. That was her most memorable appearance until this year. Now, when you think of Linden and the Boston Marathon, a different image comes to mind: It’s Linden, drenched and all alone on Boylston Street, striding toward her first marathon win. She finished in a weather-slowed 2:39:54.

It was a different story for Kawauchi. Known for his high-volume, high-quality racing, he has won over 30 marathons. Kawauchi holds several world records that reflect how consistently and frequently he knocks out fast marathon finishes, including the mark for running the most sub-2:12 marathons (26). He finished the 2018 Boston Marathon in 2:15:58.

“My victory in Boston was a moment in my marathon life that I will never forget,” said Kawauchi in the statement released by John Hancock.

As defending champion, women’s wheelchair winner McFadden is in a familiar position. She’s claimed the women’s wheelchair title in five of the last six Boston Marathons. This year, her margin of victory was an astounding 15 minutes and 22 seconds.

“I love coming to Boston,” said McFadden. “It will always hold a special place in my heart. I love the course and the community support. The course is very technical and the elite women’s division continues to grow and get better every year.”

Men’s wheelchair winner Hug said being defending champion makes the Boston Marathon “even more special.”

When next year’s race takes place on April 15, Linden, Kawauchi, McFadden and Hug will be joined by other top American and international runners. Other competitors in the elite fields will be announced in the weeks ahead.

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