Shalane Flanagan– America’s Newest Hope?

November 16, 2010

Shalane Flanagan is causing quite a bit of buzz in the running world since her November 7th second place finish in the New York City Marathon. Finishing with a time of 2 hours, 28 minutes, and 40 seconds, she was just 20 seconds behind winner Edna Kiplagat from Kenya, which isn’t a huge gap when you’re running 26.2 miles. Flanagan’s finish was the best time by an American woman in New York’s famous race in 20 years.

What’s interesting about the 29-year-old Flanagan is that this was her first marathon. A bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 10,000 meters, and two-time national champion in the 5,000 meters, her training has been geared towards shorter distances. With her recent win however, Americans have grasped to the hope that we could potentially have one of the world’s best female distance runners among us. Continue reading to learn more about Flanagan.

Born in Boulder, Colorado to a family of marathon runners– her mother held the female world record in 1971, and her father has a personal best of 2 hours and 18 minutes– it seemed natural she would end up in the world of competitive running. However her parents didn’t push her and she competed in swimming and soccer as a young girl. She had a competitive streak to match her parents, and was soon begging to run.

“I remember my parents running on a regular day basis,” recalls Shalane. “I remember pleading with them to let me run around the block, because I wanted to do what they did.”

Her sophomore year at Marblehead High School in Massachusetts she tried out for cross country, and her natural ability was finally showcased. It was then she focused her attention on running. She won the State Cross Country Championships her final three years of high school, and set school records– some of which still stand currently.

Then it was time for the pretty blonde to pick a college. She picked University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, where she proved herself well, winning national titles in both 2002 and 2003. Upon graduating she turned professional, and has since lowered her 3,000 meter time to 8:33.25 and her 5,000 meter time to 14:44.80 which is an American record. She also holds the 10,000 meter American record with a time of 30:22.22 which she set at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Flanagan now lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, manager, and training partner Steve Edwards. She met Edwards when they both attended the University of North Carolina and he was a sprinter. Flanagan trains under Jerry Schumacher and still lends a hand at her alma mater as a volunteer assistant coach for the cross country team.

If Flanagan keeps working at it, she could make America very proud at the 2010 Olympic marathon in London. What do you think? Does Flanagan stand a chance at the Olympics?

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