Desiree Linden displayed good sportsmanship during the Boston Marathon on Monday — and that ended up helping her to become the first American woman to win the race since 1985.
Linden said that during the first half of the race, she wasn't feeling so hot in the cold, wet and windy weather. Unsure if she'd be able to finish the race, she figured her efforts might be better spent assisting fellow U.S. runner and reigning New York Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan in any way she could.
"Early on in the race, I was feeling horrible," Linden said, "and I just kind of nudged [Shalane] and said, 'Hey, I might drop out. There's a good chance I'm going to drop out today. If you need something — block the wind, whatever — let me know.' "
She said that near the midway point, with both of them running with the lead pack, Flanagan took her up on the offer.
"She nudged me and she's like 'I'm going to hit the bathroom,'" Linden said. "And I was like, 'Well, if [the pack] slows up, great. If not, I'll try to tuck in and bring you back to the group.' That was that."
Linden said she initially stuck with rest of the pack as it kept up its pace as Flanagan darted off to the side, but then she started looking over her shoulder and slowing down.
Eventually Flanagan caught up with Linden and the two made their way back to the pack together in a matter of minutes.
And as it turned out, that little break of sorts actually provided a boost for Linden. She decided not to drop out of the race and ended up winning it in 2 hours, 39 minutes, 54 seconds — more than four minutes faster than second-place finisher and fellow U.S. runner Sarah Sellers (2:44:04). Flanagan finished seventh in 2:46:31.
"When you work together, you never know what's going to happen," said Linden, who finished second in the 2011 Boston Marathon. "Helping her helped me and kind of got my legs back from there."