NEW YORK (AP) — Shalane Flanagan dethroned Mary Keitany on Sunday and became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since 1977, potentially ending her decorated career with her first major marathon victory.
Keitany had won three straight New York marathons, but Flanagan pulled away from the Kenyan great with about three miles to go. Flanagan finished with an unofficial time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, 53 second, about a minute faster than Keitany. The American cried and yelled as she approached the finish line all alone.
“It’s indescribable,” the 36-year-old Flanagan said. “It’s a moment I’m trying to soak up and savor.”
The last American woman to win New York was Miki Gorman, who won consecutive titles in 1976-77.
Flanagan finished second in New York in her first marathon in 2010 but hadn’t run this race since. After a fracture in her lower back kept her out of the Boston Marathon, Flanagan trained hard for New York with an eye on Keitany.
Flanagan called Keitany “the alpha racer” and said she was ready to “suffer dearly” while keeping up with the unpredictable Kenyan.
Flanagan, Keitany and Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska were step-and-step until the 24th mile. Keitany never made a move, though, and Flanagan hit the jets to pull away, keeping a stern face until getting emotional near the finish in Central Park.
On the podium, Flanagan put her hands over face and began to cry again when she was announced the winner. She turned to hug Keitany before accepting her medal.
“This is the moment I’ve dreamed off since I was a little girl,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan had said she may retire if she won New York. She didn’t immediately make an announcement regarding her future.