“I was a little girl, just north of here, and dreamed of running this race. It’s surreal,” said Flanagan, who finished second in the New York City Marathon in 2010 and finished 10th at the London Olympics. “I expect a hard run. I expect to die a thousand deaths. I don’t know what to expect.”
No U.S. runner has won the race since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach took the women’s title in 1985; the last American man to win was Greg Meyer in 1983. Jason Hartmann, who was fourth last year, is the top American contender on the men’s side after Olympians Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall withdrew because of injuries.
“This needs to happen,” Goucher said. “We want an American to win, period.”
Korir, a Louisville alum, can continue a remarkable year for the Cardinals. After he won last year, Louisville followed that up with a victory in the Sugar Bowl and the men’s basketball national championship while losing in the finals of the women’s NCAA tournament.
Korir, who graduated in 2008, said he worked on the maintenance crew in the basketball team’s dorm and knew Peyton Siva. He said watched the men’s championship game against Michigan and drew inspiration from the Cardinals’ late comeback.
“The way they are patient, the way they wait to kill the competition until the end of race, it’s very educational,” Korir said. “The winner is not the one that starts fastest. (That is) definitely my strategy.”
Not long after the last of the sweaty and the sickened crossed the Back Bay finish line last year, B.A.A. officials gathered as always to discuss what they’d learned and how they can improve the next race. McGillivray said the keys were streamlining the ways they could ramp up the services in case of extreme heat: More water, more doctors, more buses to remove the ill or injured from the course.