Desiree Linden wasn’t expecting to win the Boston Marathon on Monday. As a matter of fact, she wasn’t even expecting to run it.
Linden, 34, says the day started like any other, with her usual morning jog in Hopkinton, MA.
“Some bastard pulled up alongside me in his car and started with the whole thing. You know – ‘Nice ass’, ‘aren’t you cute’, that sort of thing. I just rolled my eyes and kept running, but he wasn’t going away. And I saw this big crowd ahead, and I thought there was no way he’d follow me in there. I didn’t realize it was the marathon.”
Linden planned to lose herself in the crowd, then turn around and finish her typical five-mile jog. Once she got there, however, the first wave of runners took off, and so did Linden.
“I was caught up in the flow of people. I didn’t know what to do but to keep running.”
Two miles in, still looking for a place to turn around, Linden was accosted by a male runner, hoping for “a little partners’ stretching” after the race. Linden didn’t respond, speeding up to leave the offending competitor behind.
The cycle continued. Linden estimates she was catcalled or propositioned by at least two dozen male competitors, bystanders, and volunteers during the race.
“At some point, I just shut down. I totally zoned out and just channeled my rage into running. I stopped paying attention to where I was. Every time I heard another whistle or vulgar comment, I would put my head down and run faster, just to get away from it.”
Linden says she didn’t even realize she was running the Boston Marathon until she reached the finish line in Boston’s Copley Square.
“I realized at some point I was in a race, but I didn’t know which race until I got to the end and saw all the cameras and the signs and everything. I certainly had no idea I had actually won until everyone started screaming.”
Spectator Josh Savage, 26, thinks Linden should thank the men who helped her to her historic victory, the first for an American woman since 1985.
“I mean, she never would have made it if they weren’t there, giving her a reason to persevere, you know? I really think they deserve some of the credit for the win. It never would have happened without them, right? And, I mean, I would say winning the Boston Marathon is worth a couple of unsolicited compliments. I’m sure they were well-meaning, anyway. She probably just misinterpreted their intentions.”
Linden, however, has some very different words for her so-called ‘motivators’.
“I wish they’d all just fuck off.”