Shalane Flanagan was in tears as she won the 2017 NYC Marathon today, as this was her 10th marathon. She took the win with a time of two hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds, just ahead of runner Mary Keitany. Flanagan is the first American winner of the NYC Marathon in 40 years. The title was previously given to Miki Gorman in 1977. And, when Flanagan won, she told ABC News that, “This is the moment that I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl … I just wanted to honor all of the people that have given their time to me to help me stand here today.” Get to know more about Flanagan, her win, and her backstory in our 5 Fast Facts below.
1. Flanagan’s Husband Plays a Major Role In Her Running
Flanagan is married to husband Steven Ashley Edwards, who was actually a former track and field star at the University of North Carolina. The two met in college and Flanagan has posted photos on her Instagram account, with captions about how supportive Edwards has been in her running career over the years. According to Competitor Running, Edwards even acts as his wife’s agent and training partner.
Though Edwards is very supportive and takes part in Flanagan’s career, he also says that he makes sure to separate personal from business. He explained to Womens Running that, “I feel like my role as Shalane’s husband is to be an escape from her running. I rarely ask her about her training unless she brings up the topic. We discuss all the different facets of our lives most of the time. The last thing she wants to discuss is business when she is around her husband.”
2. She And Her Husband Are Foster Parents of Runners
Being a professional athlete, Flanagan has said that she has had to put off having children. Because of this, she and her husband adopted 17-year-old twins Breauna and Keauna Cobb, according to ESPN. Flanagan has talked about how much she loves her foster children and said that she is eager to start a family with her husband. She talked about her experience with the twins thus far and told ESPN, “Both their mother and father are deceased. They do have a grandmother and they go visit her. They have two brothers from the same mother. Their family members have not been able to take care of them. We try to make a point to visit and spend time with everyone … They have a great track program at the high school they go to, with phenomenal coaches who care a lot … I proposed they do cross-country, and I slowly realized they hated it. That made me feel terrible, because I didn’t want them to do it just because of me. They’re sprinters, and that gives them self-confidence … It’ll be fun for me to see what they can do.”
In an interview with ESPN, Flanagan also discussed how she and her husband decided to become foster parents. She revealed, “When I first proposed this idea to my husband, I was definitely scared, but I think the hardest part of being an athlete for me is delaying having a family. We want to have a purpose and we want to take care of kids. The hardest part has been earning their trust and getting them to open up. The fact that they’re identical twins and have each other, and have always had each other, is good and bad. They don’t separate easily … It has been by far one of the most rewarding things my husband and I have ever done, and we’ve talked about how we could envision doing this all the time, maybe never even having our own and just doing foster care.”
3. An Injury Affected Her Part in the Rio Olympics
In an interview with ESPN, Flanagan opened up about the injury that affected her in the Rio Olympics. She also talked about the silver lining in the situation, explaining that, “Things came to a head when I took a long flight over to Japan to run a half marathon. I was experiencing so much discomfort just walking around. It was so debilitating that even coughing hurt. I had a couple of MRIs done and that confirmed it was an iliac fracture … I was on bed rest for two weeks. Got back into some light swimming, progressed to getting on the bike. Took my first vacation in seven years, which was very much welcome, [with] my two foster girls that my husband and I look after.” According to the Chicago Tribune, Flanagan finished sixth at the Rio Games because of a fracture in her lower back. The injury also kept Flanagan out of the Boston Marathon.
Flanagan also spoke with Team Hot Shot about taking time away from running to nurse her injury. She exclaimed, “Injuries totally suck! But unplanned rest must have been what my body and mind needed. I think many athletes have a tendency to keep piling on goals especially if there is nothing holding them back! So, forced rest this winter (10 weeks, no running) allowed me to step back and indulge in all the other amazing parts of my life. I took a vacation, spent time with my family and foster kids, worked on my second cookbook, and took a swing at sports commentary! It was fun to see what else I could be good at.”
4. Flanagan’s Mother Is a Former Marathon World Record Holder
Shalane Flanagan comes from a family of runners. Her mother Cheryl Bridges, is a former marathon world record holder and also a five-time U.S. World Cross Country Championship runner. Flanagan’s dad Steve was also a U.S. World Cross Country Champion participant and marathon runner. Flanagan was mainly raised by her father. Today, Bridges’ last name is Treworgy.
In an interview from 2001 with Bridges, she admitted that she started running as an overweight teenager. She also revealed, “I grew up in an abuseful situation and [the running] was me getting in touch with my own strength. It gave me real solitude. I started going through a personality change … The mentality is that when you’ve been abused, you do what you’re told. You sort of don’t think for yourself. I knew that I wanted to lose weight.” Bridges revealed that her parents (Flanagan’s grandparents) were also athletic. Bridges had her daughter Shalane at age 33 and daughter Maggie at age 36.
5. She Beat Three-Time Winner Mary Keitany Who Came In Second Place
Mary Keitany previously won three of the NYC Marathons in a row and she came in second place behind Flanagan today, approximately one minute behind her. Flanagan’s first New York Marathon was in 2010 and she was the runner-up in that race. Keitany actually won the London Marathon with a world record time of 2:17:01 in April for her third win in London, according to Daily Nation.
Prior to competing in this year’s NYC Marathon, Keitany said to ESPN, “New York is the marathon for all the amateurs, the dream of every runner not only for elite but also the fun runners. Every runner would like to run in New York at least once in their lifetime. The town very much participates in the event to make the running experience there incredible. It is the atmosphere in New York during the week building up to race day that makes the event different from other marathons. London is no doubt the most competitive, while Boston has a unique history, but New York is simply New York.” As for her inspiration in life and her motivation, Keitany says that her two kids and husband Charles Koech are everything to her.