Updated April 14, 2023.
The focus is on Des Linden, a two-time Olympian, second place at the Chicago Marathon and Boston Marathon, and the Boston Marathon champion in 2018. Des Linden has competed for 25 years now, from high school to an elite athlete, and holds the World record at the 50k.
Des Linden is admired and loved in the running community because of her focus, sense of humor, and love of competition.
On Monday, April 17, 2023, Des Linden, recently having run a 1:12.21 half marathon, is racing the 127 Boston Marathon. She is also on a book tour, with her New York Times # 4 Best Seller, #ChoosingtoRun!
Des Linden is sponsored by Brooks Running; she is also sponsored by COROS.
How do you write about Des Linden? Carefully, Des Linden is one of the finest American woman distance runners of any generation.
She loves the battle, loves to challenge her competitors, and is able to focus, one run at a time, on the pursuit of excellence.
Des Linden was a fine high school runner in California, breaking five minutes for the mile as a freshman. She made the State meet all four years, finishing 8th in the 1,600m as a junior and senior.
Is she determined? Consider this. In 1999, Des Linden doubled at the CIF meet and took dead last in the 800 meters. In 2000, the junior came back and finished fifth. In 2001, running the 3,200 meters, Des Linden took 4th, the best finish in her four years in CIF state meets in high school.
Des Linden went to Arizona State University, where she was coached by Walt Drenth. A good runner, Des hit 34 minutes in the 10,000m and just broke 17 minutes in the 5,000m. She was a good American distance runner. She had to put a lot of miles and stay focused. That is why her career is now going on twenty-four years.
She then, in 2007, joined Hansons Brooks Distance Project, one of the first group training situations in the modern era in the U.S. When Brooks announced their sponsorship of Hansons Brooks Distance Project, the news made the Wall Street Journal.
Des Linden began her love affair with the Boston Marathon, where she placed 19th woman in 2:44.56. That would be the very beginning of a career-long love affair with the 26.2 miles of Boston.
The overwhelming theme of Des Linden’s career is? She runs with her heart, her legs and her brain. I remember her gutting it out at the 2008 Olympic Trials in the 10,000m, holding on as long as she could until her body said no mas, and she finished 11th.
In the fall of 2008, Des Linden scored a big PB at the Chicago Marathon, where she placed 5th in a PB of 2:31.33 (she had finished 13th in the Marathon Olympic Trials in 2008, on a circuit course in Boston, in PB 2:37.50).
Des Linden made the US team for Berlin in 2009 in the marathon. She ran gutty and finished tenth on the tough circuit course, scoring another PB, this time by 3 minutes, and finished second American woman in 2:27.53. I remember my notes. This Des Linden was tough.
In the hot and humid summer nights of Des Moines, Iowa, in 2010, Des Linden just butted heads with a tough 10,000m field, placing 3rd in 32:32.32. Des had guts, speed, and determination.
That fall, I saw Des Linden in Chicago again, finishing second in 2:26.20, another PB!
The race that brought her to the forefront, though, was Boston 2011. I was in the media room and watching Des Linden duke it out with the best in the world for 26 miles. She was two seconds off a win and ran 2:22.38, the fastest time by an American woman EVER on the Boston course and a 4-minute PB.
What impressed me about that race? Des Liden was relentless. She did not give up. A surge was thrown at her, and she threw one back. It was like the moving Raging Bull. I recall a big lump in my throat watching Des Linden race, hoping she could win. That was not to be her day in Boston. But, in fact, it was her day, she may not have won the battle, but she did win the war seven years later, but I have digressed.
Des Linden, racing 5000 meters at Adrian Martinez Invite, circa 2015, photo by Kevin Morris.
Des Linden has made two Olympic teams and competed in four Olympic Trials. In 2008, she was 13th in the marathon and 11th in the 10,000m. In 2012, she was second in the marathon Trials but Dnfed in London due to a stress fracture that took a couple of years to return to her elite fitness level.
This writer was quite worried about her recovery, but Des Linden stayed focused. In 2016, Des Linden finished second in the Olympic Trials in hot and humid Los Angeles. In humid Rio, Des Linden finished seventh in the Olympic marathon.
Her win in Boston came in 2018 after two Olympic appearances. In the most hellacious weather in Boston marathon history, I was watching on TV from home in Wisconsin, having had seven stents four days before. In absolutely crap weather, Des Linden was out there, in a rain jacket, pounding way. Her win cemented her as not only an American star but a global star. Des Linden became the first American woman to win Boston in 33 years.
One thing about Des Linden: she is no B.S. In 2019, at the NYC Marathon, this writer, after Des had just placed sixth in 2:26.46 in the NYC Marathon, asked Des a question with all of the world’s media. assembled, I asked them a not well-considered question, “What will you have tonight, Des, Bourbon, or Whiskey? The response, seen below, has gone into the running lexicon:
I’m looking at my contacts so that I may set up a conversation where I may say, “Bourbon is whiskey, Larry.”
— RL Abramson (@heybramson) November 4, 2019
A T-shirt made by Brooks was sent to me. At the 2020 Olympic Trials, at a Brooks gathering, someone asked Des about whiskey, and this being set up, answered to Des, “Oh, Des, may I answer this? Bourbon is Whiskey.” Any time I want 50,000-100,000 impressions, I just post something on Bourbon is Whiskey, Larry. It could end up on my gravestone.
— Victoria Jackson (@HistoryRunner) March 2, 2020
Another thing about Des Linden: is she is honest, funny, and amazingly cordial. I have spoken with her dozens of times during her career, and a smile, a joke, and a wry sense of humor always appear.
But, get this, and please make no mistake. Des Linden is one of the toughest distance runners, man or woman that I have ever known. I put her up with Joan Benoit Samuelson, who had to find people to run with her at the top of her career because she trained so relentlessly. Des Linden is tough; she also knows how to relax and is honest with her comments. I like that.
Des Linden competed in her fourth Olympic Trials on February 29, 2020. A week later, and there would have been no Olympic Trials. That simple. It was also one of the finest Olympic marathon Trials in history. No discussion. The Atlanta Track Club went to great lengths to hold marathon Trials for the marathoners.
Des Linden knew it was going to be a battle. She had some niggles, and she knew that many were gunning for her. That is what happens when you win Boston, set a World record, and are viewed as fairly indestructible.
I expect that Des was disappointed taking 4th, coming oh so close to making her third Olympic team in 2020 on that tough Atlanta course. Des Linden liked the course, knowing it was honest, like an ee cummings poem.
Des Linden gutted it out, taking 4th, no quarter given, none asked. Des had run 2:29.04, cementing herself into the history of American distance running.
A devotee of the track (not so much anymore), cross country, and the solitary miles needed to get out of your body what Des LIdnen demands.
During the pandemic, Des Linden broke the world record for the 50k (31.6 miles) in 2:59.54, breaking the world record by over seven minutes!
Des Linden has come full circle. She is back being coached by Walt Drenth; after a decade with Hansons Brooks Distance Project, Des has been running as elite Brooks for most of the past decade. There is honesty in her running and her comments about other runners.
Des Linden, stopping her watch, Atlanta 2020 Olympic Trials, photo by Kevin Morris
In April 2022, Des Linden finished 13th women in Boston, her favorite race, in 2:28.54. She had had some interrupted training and did her PR for her sponsor, Brooks, with aplomb.
This fall, the Boston Marathon champion, two-time Olympian, and runner’s runner, Des Linden, will be competing at the NYC Marathon on November 6, 2022.
Des Linden is a great example of how patience, focus, and the love of activity can come to play in a career.
Des Linden has many more miles to run.
To end this piece, I am posting in an interview that I did a year or so ago on my program, #SocialingtheDistance. Please enjoy!
Des Linden is sponsored by Brooks Running (and is their Chief Running Advisor) and COROS.
Updated April 14, 2023:
Des Linden is the toast of Boston this weekend. Brooks has just announced a new line of running products around her:
We liked that BROOKS noted that the Des X products would work, rain or shine. Des has done some of her best racing in inclement weather.