5 Runners To Watch At NYC Marathon

Ryan Chatelain
November 02, 2018 - 8:00 am
Shalane Flanagan

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The United States finally ended its decadeslong title drought on the women's side in last year's TCS New York City Marathon. What will the dominant storyline be when the runners cross the finish line in Central Park on Sunday? 

Here's a look at five runners to watch -- and then some -- at this year's race:

Geoffrey Kamworor

The 25-year-old is the defending NYC Marathon champion, holding off fellow Kenyan and 2014 champ Wilson Kipsang last year to win by just three seconds (2 hours, 10 minutes, 53 seconds). It was the first major marathon victory for Kamworor, who is a three-time world cross-country champion.

“Racing once more in the TCS New York City Marathon means so much to me,” Kipsang told IAAF.org. "It is my favorite race, and although thousands of miles separate my training base in Kaptagat, Kenya, to New York, the event feels like home.”

Geoffrey Kamworor
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Bernard Lagat

The 43-year-old, five-time Olympian is making his marathon debut and is trying to become the first American to win in New York since Meb Keflezighi in 2009. Lagat owns 11 world championship medals (five golds) in the 1,500-, 3,000- and 5,000-meter distances. 

“A few years ago, I was able to watch the New York City Marathon from one of the lead vehicles, and I knew that when I ran a marathon someday, I wanted it to be in New York,” Lagat said in a statement, via Runner's World. “I’m so excited to return for this new challenge.”

Lagat is a native of Kenya who became an naturalized U.S. citizen in 2004.

Bernard Lagat
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Shalane Flanagan

Flanagan (pictured above) made history last year by becoming the first American woman in 40 years to win the NYC Marathon. The Massachusetts native is a 16-time national champion and Olympic silver medalist.

“When I think about returning to race in New York City, I’m flooded with magical memories,” Flanagan, 37, told IAAF.com. “My heart skips a beat, I get butterflies in my stomach, and my palms get sweaty. New York City is incredibly special to me. It’s where I ran my first marathon in 2010, placing second, and of course, my dream-come-true moment in 2017 when I won.”

Desi Linden

If Flanagan can't keep the women's title in the United States, maybe Linden can. In April, the 35-year-old California native became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. She also has some second-place finishes in Boston and Chicago on her résumé.

“I’m thrilled to head to the TCS New York City Marathon this fall," Linden told IAAF.org. "I’m motivated to get back on the big stage that NYRR (New York Road Runners) will undoubtedly put together and intend to make a name for myself in another great city.”

Linden last ran in the NYC Marathon in 2014, when she placed fifth.

Desi Linden
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Mary Keitany

The 36-year-old Kenyan has finished in the top two at the NYC Marathon each of the past four years -- winning the race in 2014, '15 and '16 before finishing one second behind Flanagan last year. 

“I was disappointed not to defend my title last year, but I was not 100 percent healthy and Shalane ran a strong race. I am happy for her historic win,” said Keitany in a release, via Competitor Running. “When I came back to New York to win the NYRR New York Mini 10K in June, I showed that I am still in top shape."

She said she has been training harder than ever for Sunday's race. Also a three-time London Marathon champ, Keitany figures to be a strong challenger in New York again.

Mary Keitany
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Celebrities 

Teri Hatcher
PA Images/Sipa USA

Every year, marathon-goers can do a little stargazing, and this year's race is no different. Celebrities slated to run include:

• Actress Teri Hatcher ("Desperate Housewives," "Lois & Clark")
• New York Giants great Tiki Barber
• Retired tennis star Amelie Mauresmo
• Reality TV star Nev Schulman ("Catfish")
• Actor Brian d'Arcy James ("Spotlight," "Smash")
• Sportscaster Sam Ryan