A way too early look at the 2018 Boston Marathon women’s race
You tend to see some sort of “Way too early look at next season” after most sporting events like the Super Bowl or World Series. So why not do this following a great weekend in Boston? A few of the Citius Mag staff writers got together (via Slack) on Tuesday afternoon and chatted about next year’s Boston Marathon.
Chris Chavez: Since it’s a Tuesday but it feels like a Monday, the Boston Marathon is still on our minds. But instead of looking back, let’s take a quick moment to look forward, and in particular, to 2018. So if you work for the BAA or John Hancock and want some ideas, look no further. In particular, we want to discuss the elite women’s race for next year. It’s never too early.
Ideally, what would you want to see?
Paul Snyder: I’d personally like to see the race directors completely neglect the men’s field — like, they don’t give out any appearance fees at all to guys — and just make a huge push to get every active top-tier American woman to show up. Huddle, Hasay, Linden, Sisson, Goucher, Cragg, etc., then round out the field with whoever else is in shape and wants to push the pace. Then we just have a race of attrition to determine the best American marathoner. The women’s side is super deep right now so it could be good, and the hyper-patriotic Boston fans will obviously eat it up.
Pat Price: Agreed. Totally into that. New York can be international. Boston can be the American challenge.
Snyder; Plus it lets a bunch of men who are Joe Six-Pack to Joe Schmoe-level talents have a shot at a Boston victory. It would be cool for some no-name 2:20 guy who’s a teacher to win America’s marathon.
Price: A true hobby jogger championship. Winner gets Sam Adams for a year, and some lobster rolls. Oh and can’t forget the Dunkin.
Sterner: Maybe a Home Depot gift card that’s the size of a novelty check.
Chavez: I don’t think I would go as far as zero money for the men but I totally agree that next year should be a very deep U.S. women’s field. It’s another push to end that now-33 year drought.
Sterner: What do you think it takes to get all of those women in one race? Is it just upping the prize money?
Price: Appearance fees.
Snyder: That and having Toby Keith write a shitty-ass song about marathoning. Gotta tap into that sense of patriotism.
Sterner: How do we assure it’s not a tactical affair?
Snyder: Checkpoint bonuses. First to 5K gets something. First to 10K. First to the half. Etc.
Chavez: Appearance fees certainly play into it. It’s strange though because the Boston Marathon historically doesn’t award prize money to the top Americans, and was hesitant on breaking that when John Legere tried to toss some bucks into the race. Sometimes we’re too tied to tradition. But let’s take money out of the equation and assume they have the resources to make it happen. Ideally, we’re thinking…
Jordan Hasay returns as the top American from 2017 with a chance to improve upon her podium finish.
If Shalane Flanagan is back to being healthy, she can make another attempt at the victory that she’s been craving her entire career. Desi Linden will certainly want to come back.
Molly Huddle would be a huge draw. She already has the ties to the BAA from running that 5K annually.
That’s a hell of a field before you even start to consider Amy Hastings and an up-and-comer like Kellyn Taylor.
Snyder: I think generally, when you get enough fast people in a race and it’s not a men’s 1,500m or 5,000m, it’ll just naturally go at an honest clip. Out of the top 10 American women, do all of them really think they’d win on a kick? Maybe we plop recently retired Meb on the back of the lead truck. Just sitting there dressed as Uncle Sam. Something irresistibly patriotic that can’t help but incentivize the ladies to give it their best.
Sterner: It would be more folksy if he rode his bike along with them and handed them GU packets. May the biggest patriot win.
Price: Meb as Uncle Sam has legs.
Snyder: Wearing a boombox playing Sousa marches?
Sterner: If the sound of “Stars and Stripes Forever” blaring from an American made boombox doesn’t lift you up over the final six miles, god help you.
Stephen Kersh: Oh god damn I love this. I don’t see how Shalane loses. Her civic pride gives her the edge.
Snyder: Well Chris, I think our work here is done. Let’s get this baby printed and faxed to the fat-cats over at John Hancock POST HASTE!
Chavez: Real quick though, who do you has the best chance of winning this race? If everyone shows up with their best fitness on race day?
Snyder: Ah a good question!
Snyder: It’s between Huddle, Flanagan, Hasay, Sisson, Cragg, Linden, Goucher, Bruce has been running phenomenally too… who else?
Chavez: Don’t sleep on Kellyn Taylor.
Snyder: I’m inclined to go with Huddle, like Stephen. She’s probably the best overall pure distance runner in the country right now.
Chavez: I think I would take Huddle as well. I could see her and Hasay dueling over the last 5K but Huddle owns a 9–0 record against Hasay all-time and I think that would hold up. I talked to Pete Julian, the NOP assistant coach, after the race on Monday and I asked about how much of the course they initially wanted to scout beforehand. Galen Rupp and Suguru Osako ran something like the last eight miles of the course. Jordan Hasay did not run on the course before Monday. So that “experience” factor I think can be overrated a bit. That’s not to say it can’t still be helpful. We saw Linden get back into contention with some smart tangent running but at the end of the day, the entire podium was made of women who had never raced Boston before. Huddle for the win.
Snyder: That’s interesting. And kind of cements my belief that “idiot strength” (for lack of a better phrase) is very real. Sometimes being fairly ignorant about what lies ahead is the best strategy, because you can’t psyche yourself out to the same degree. In which case, I would also think Sisson could run really well in this scenario, as it could be her debut at the distance. She’s trained and raced with Huddle for a while now, and has proven herself a more than capable training partner. It’s only a matter of time before she nips Huddle at the line at least once.
Chavez: I like to think that “idiot strength” got me through my PR on a warm day in Boston in 2016 while other experienced runners struggled.
Kersh: Ok. Allow me to riff on my Huddle prediction. It basically just stems from the Eye Test. She looks, to me, the most capable of running a very fast time on that course. Or any marathon course. Her track credentials along with her half PR are the best among current road racers. She looks so damn unbeatable all the time! It is from pure speculation I can confidently say Molly Huddle will solidify herself as the next great American marathoner in the coming years.
Sterner: I guess for the sake of keeping things divisive I’ll say I like Jordan Hasay. Sure, she has struggled of late on the track, where her other American competitors are world class. But her debut time puts her ahead of people like Deena Kastor and five minutes ahead of Huddle. Maybe she was just built for the marathon?
Chavez: I can’t wait for next year.