Desiree Linden will contend for a spot on the U.S. Olympic marathon team on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Here are some fast facts about her.
Marathon PR: 2 hours, 22 minutes, 38 seconds (Boston, 2011)
Best trials qualifier: 2:23:54 (Boston, 2014)
Most recent marathon: fourth, 2:25:39, Boston, April 20
Residence: Rochester Hills, Michigan
Age on race day: 32
Previous Olympic trials results: 13th, 2008 marathon; second, 2012 marathon
Trials outlook: Linden has earned a reputation as a gritty, tough runner on the marathon circuit, and for good reason. Her no-nonsense, let-my-performances-speak-for-themselves attitude has taken her to the top of the field, leaving fans with many memorable performances -- most notably at the 2011 Boston Marathon, where she finished second by just two seconds after a sprint finish down Boylston Street. She comes into the trials with the second-fastest marathon qualifying time of 2:23:54, behind only Shalane Flanagan’s 2:21:14.
Linden, who made the 2012 London Games in the marathon but dropped out during the race due to injury, seems ready to move out of that runner-up position. She’s indicated that in Los Angeles she’s going for the win, not merely a spot on the Olympic team.
“I would love to be on a second Olympic team,” she said. “And I’ve never won a U.S. championship, so that would be really fantastic.”
Behind Flanagan and Linden are a few competitors who could disrupt the predictions. Amy Cragg (2:27:03), Deena Kastor (2:27:47), and Kara Goucher (who was on the 2012 team and has recently illustrated she’s approaching her previous levels of fitness), all have the experience to be in the top three. Five other women are poised for breakthroughs that could take the veterans by surprise.
But, calling Linden a shoo-in? She doesn’t buy it.
“That’s a silly thing to say from an athlete’s perspective. Going into the Olympics last time, I thought I was ready for a fantastic race. Then a couple weeks out, everything flipped upside down and I could barely move,” she said. “The marathon is a tricky event ... I think that people are considering me a favorite demonstrates that I’ve gotten the job done before and I’m someone who knows how to do it.”
That being said, if Linden doesn’t make the team, it would be considered a major upset. The odds are in her favor that come August, she’ll be Rio-bound.
Fun fact: Linden is a whiskey connoisseur who owns a collection of the finest. “If I make the team, I’ll probably have to open one of the nice bottles of Pappy Van Winkle bourbons and cheers with that,” she said.