Imagine youâre a race organizer and you wanted to put together an incredibly memorable marathon. You might come very close to constructing the field that has been assembled for the womenâs New York City Marathon on Sunday.
Since itâs a home race for Americans, you would start with them.
You would recruit Des Linden, who in April became the first American to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years after fighting the horrendous weather that crushed so many other contenders in the race.
And you would certainly bring back Shalane Flanagan, who last year became the first American woman to win the New York marathon since 1977. She finally beat Mary Keitany of Kenya, last yearâs womenâs runner-up, with a time of 2 hours 26 minutes 53 seconds in an effort that will be remembered for her expletive-laced, fist-pumping sprint to the finish.
You would want Keitany back, too. In 2016, she left behind her fellow competitors and ran alone to the finish for more than an hour without ever looking back. (As she said at the time, she âfelt good.â) You would also want Vivian Cheruiyot, also a Kenyan, who won this yearâs London Marathon in 2:18:31. They have run the second- and fifth-fastest marathons among women.
That is what you would do. And that is exactly what race organizers of the New York marathon have done.
âWe have an epic womenâs field thatâs poised to deliver the race that can dominate the day,â Peter Ciaccia, the race director, said.
Flanagan, Linden and the womenâs half-marathon record-holder Molly Huddle, who took third in this race two years ago, are some of the best female distance runners the United States has produced. They will take on Keitany, who has won in New York three times, and Cheruiyot.
And they have been cheering one another on: After Flanagan won New York last year, she told Linden, âItâs your turn.â After Linden ended the American womenâs drought at Boston this year, she urged on Huddle, who like Flanagan was done in by the New England weather.
Allie Kieffer, who did not have a sponsor in New York last year but finished fifth, in 2:29:39, is running again, with a year of personal bests behind her. And Sarah Sellers, the nurse anesthetist who took second place in Boston this year, is in the race, too. Sponsored now, she ramped up her training (while keeping her nursing job). Stephanie Bruce, who won the United States 10-kilometer championship this year, is the other American with a marathon time under 2:30 in the elite womenâs field.
All of them are hoping to make New York the decisive victory in a two-year streak of outstanding distance running performances for women that only seem to be getting better.
On the menâs side, there are three recent winners of major marathons, including the defending champion, Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya. To win again, he will have to beat a two-time Boston winner, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, and Daniel Wanjiru of Kenya, who won London last year. And keep an eye on 22-year-old Shura Kitata of Ethiopia, who was second in London this year with a time of 2:04:49.
Among the Americans, Abdi Abdirahman, who was third in New York as recently as 2016, has a good chance, at age 41, to finish first among his countrymen.