Linden, who finished in 2:39:55, fought through cold, wet weather to win the event with a time that was more than 14 minutes slower than her finishing time last year at the Boston Marathon, when she placed fourth.
The athlete, who goes by “Des,” is a 2001 graduate of Hilltop High School, where was known by her maiden name of Davila. She attended Arizona State University, where she was a two-time All-American in track and cross country, and currently lives and trains in Michigan.
She told an interviewer after the race that she considered dropping out early on after slowing her pace and dropping behind the elite group of women runners at the front of the pack. She slowed to wait for fellow American Shalane Flanagan, who took a brief restroom break.
“Honestly, at mile two, three, four, I didn’t feel like I was even gonna make it to the finish line,” Linden told NBC Sports. “I told (Flanagan) during the race, `if there’s anything I can do to help you out, let me know, because I might just drop out.’ When you work together, you never know what’s going to happen. Helping her helped me, and I kinda got my legs back from there.”
Linden finished strong in the cold, wet conditions that slowed the field, pulling away from the elite women’s group with a 6:09 mile at mile 22. She said the elements suited her.
“It hurts right now, but it’s a perfect day for me,” Linden told an interviewer after the race. “I can tough it out through anything.”
Earlier this month, Linden tweeted that “some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: keep showing up.”
Before her victory in Boston, Linden had never won a marathon. She finished second at the 2011 Boston Marathon, just six seconds behind the winner, with a time of 2:22:38, the best ever for an American woman at that time and still Linden’s best marathon mark.
She made the U.S. Olympic team in 2012 and 2016. At her first Olympic Games in London, she was unable to finish the marathon because of a femur stress fracture. In Rio de Jainero in 2016, she finished 10th.
Last year, Linden finished fourth in Boston with a time of 2:25:06, finishing about three minutes behind the winner. The wet conditions this year slowed down the field — Sports Illustrated reported that it was 38 degrees at the start of the race, with wind gusts up to 18 mph. Linden’s winning time clocked in 18 minutes slower than last year’s winning mark.
With the victory, Linden is the first American woman to break the tape at the Boston Marathon since Lisa Rainsberger won the race 33 years ago.