Long-distance runner Shalane Flanagan hadn't competed in a race in nearly three years, but she is in the middle of an ambitious comeback, as she attempts to complete six marathons within a six-week span.
Flanagan, a Marblehead, Massachusetts, native who became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years when she triumphed in the race in 2017, plans to run five scheduled World Marathon Majors, including the Boston Marathon, and another race to replace the Tokyo Marathon within a span of 42 days.
She recently told NBC10 Boston that she hopes to complete each of the marathons in under three hours.
"I call it like a running eclipse because it's so unique. It's like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Flanagan said. "And I just feel like, after a year of pandemic and just needing some motivation to just set goals again, I just felt like this was a great reason to just get back out there and show young people that the mind and body are very connected."
The comeback started in Berlin, where she raced in the Berlin Marathon on Sept. 26, finishing in 2 hours, 38 minutes and 32 seconds. This weekend, she finished the London Marathon in 2:35:04 -- making her the fastest woman on the course.
Next, she's headed to the United States to compete in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10. The rescheduled Boston Marathon will be contested the very next day, on Oct. 11.
"The people of Boston, to me, are just like the best sports fans ever. So it's like it's 26 miles of the best stadium you've ever been in," Flanagan said.
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Then, she will complete the Abbott World Marathon Majors’ finale in New York on Nov. 7.
Flanagan is one of the most decorated American runners ever, winning a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in the 10,000-meter race.
In addition to her win at the 2017 New York City Marathon, she finished second in the race in 2010 and third in 2018. She also has a third-place finish to her credit in Berlin in 2014. In that race, she set her career best mark in the marathon, running in 2:21:14.