Shalane Flanagan Is Running 6 World Marathon Majors In 6 Weeks


In the world of running, Shalane Flanagan looms large with the kind of mythical aura that would surround a Marvel superhero. Only in this instance, of course, Flanagan is real and doesn’t rely on cinematic techniques or a writer’s room to deliver a plot line rife with inspiration and motivation learnings. She comes up with these things on her own. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Flanagan, know that in 2017 she became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years. In 2018, she placed third in the event before retiring in 2019 as a four-time Olympian and Olympic silver medallist. These days, she might be retired but she’s still a powerful and motivating force in running. As a mentor and coach, she leads Nike’s Bowerman Track Club in Portland, Oregon. But in a year that came to be defined by the global pandemic, she also saw an opportunity. With the marathon race schedule closely packed following months of shut down across most sporting codes, Flanagan tasked herself with the challenge of running all six world marathon majors. That alone would be an incredibly demanding feat, but Flanagan wanted an added challenge: to run each in under three hours, equating to a pace of under 6 minutes 50 seconds per mile, or 4 minutes 14 seconds per kilometre. In other words: it’s pretty darn quick. 

Already, Flanagan has run the Berlin Marathon, a race that saw her achieve a personal best of 2:21:14 and become the fourth-fastest American marathoner of all time. The race, which was on September 26, saw Flanagan finish in a faster-than-expected time of 2 hours 38 minutes. Just seven days later, she went from Berlin to the UK for the London Marathon, where she finished in a time of 2:35:04. 

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