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Cancer survivor finishes Boston Marathon after midnight

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BOSTON (AP) — Cancer survivor Mary Shertenlieb wasn’t about to let rain, wind or cold stop her.

Shertenlieb crossed the Boston Marathon finish line at 12:18 a.m. Tuesday, about 13 hours after she started the race.

The leukemia survivor was at mile 15 on Monday when she went to a medical tent, shivering, with purple lips, thinking she had hypothermia.

She called her husband, Rich, and he suggested she come home, take a hot shower, put on dry clothes, then restart the run.

The couple later went back to the spot she stopped and finished together, holding hands.

She raised about $33,000 for cancer research.

Rich Shertenlieb is co-host of the Toucher and Rich Show on Boston sports talk radio station WBZ-FM, known as 98.5 The Sports Hub.

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BOSTON MARATHON: Results | Finish Line Camera

Shalane Flanagan, after likely last Boston Marathon, looks to future

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Massachusetts native Shalane Flanagan wanted her last Boston Marathon as an elite runner to be memorable. It wasn’t, seventh place in miserable weather, but the four-time Olympian is not changing her mind.

The 36-year-old, four-time Olympian said Friday that her fourth Boston Marathon would likely be her last unless she returns in a non-competitive capacity. She stuck to that statement Monday afternoon.

“I don’t know what’s next, but for sure I think this was my last Boston Marathon,” Flanagan said, according to Runner’s World. “I think that’s it. This course is really hard. The conditions are really hard. And I’m not averse to hard things, but I think I’m good with Boston. I think that was it.”

Flanagan also stuck to her Friday statement that she could run another marathon other than Boston.

“I don’t know,” what my future holds, Flanagan told media after a hot shower and 90 minutes bundled up in her hotel room. “I feel very unsatisfied with that performance, to be honest, because I know different circumstances I’m capable of more, but at the same time, it is what it is. I don’t know.”

BOSTON MARATHON: Results | Finish Line Camera

She could try to become the first U.S. distance runner to compete in five Olympics in 2020. She would be the third-oldest female U.S. Olympic runner after marathoners Colleen de Reuck (2004) and Francie Larrieu-Smith (1992), according to the OlyMADMen.

Flanagan was asked if she might defend her New York City Marathon title in the fall, or chase a fast time in Europe or Chicago in October.

“Maybe neither, actually. The only thing that really motivates me now is maybe trying to train and help the other two women on my Bowerman Track Club team make the next Olympic team,” Flanagan said, likely referring to 2016 Olympic marathoner Amy Cragg and 2016 Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen, who converted to running in the last six months. “So I may take a little break and assess what I want to do next. I have to see what motivates me because the training is hard.”

If Boston marked Flanagan’s last marathon as an elite racer, she will retire as the third-fastest American woman all time behind Deena Kastor and Jordan Hasay.

She won the 2012 Olympic Trials and finished first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and ninth in her major marathon career to go along with her 2008 Olympic 10,000m silver medal.

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Who is Sarah Sellers? Boston Marathon runner-up’s surprising story

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At 12:16 p.m., at a miserable Boston Marathon, a woman whose eyes were covered from the rain by a blank, black cap and ears shielded from the 20 mph winds by a black headband crossed the Boylston Street finish line.

Few who braved the worst Patriots’ Day weather in 30 years paid attention to Sarah Sellers. After all, Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi had won the men’s race exactly 11 seconds earlier, his eyes popping in disbelief. She wasn’t wearing the typical branded outfits of the elite stars.

Nobody would have known who Sellers was if her last name wasn’t on the bib pinned to a logo-less blue tank top. She had never raced a major marathon nor had a profile on any major track and field website. Her profession is nursing (one of two nurses to finish in the top five on Monday, actually).

“I feel like an outsider,” Sellers told local TV afterward. “I have no credentials.”

She does now. Sellers, a 26-year-old nurse anesthetist who paid the $185 entry fee, finished second in the world’s oldest annual marathon and will collect $75,000.

“I don’t know [what I’ll do with the money],” she told Flotrack. “I didn’t even think it was a possibility that I would be in this position.”

BOSTON MARATHON: Results | Finish Line Camera

Sellers only entered Boston to join her brother, Ryan. So she recorded a qualifying time on Sept. 16 by winning the Huntsville Marathon in Utah, also known as “The Full Monte.” It starts near the top of Monte Cristo and descends 4,000 feet.

She clocked 2:44:27, a time that would have placed 28th at the 2017 Boston Marathon.

Sellers, then Sarah Callister, was a Utah state champion in high school but never reached NCAAs on the track at Weber State, graduating in 2013 with a navicular stress fracture and then taking two years off from training. 

“I never really reached my peak in college,” Sellers told Flotrack. “I think I ran well, but I was kind of juggling a lot of clinical hours with nursing school, not a lot of sleep.”

She completed Florida grad school classes for nursing and anesthesia last year and moved to Tucson, training in up to 90-degree heat for what would be the coldest Boston Marathon of her lifetime.

She ran before work at 4 a.m. or after at 7 p.m., coached long distance by Weber State’s Paul Pilkington. Pilkington famously won the 1994 Los Angeles Marathon as a pace setter and high school English and history teacher.

Her goal on Patriots’ Day was to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Trials by running 2:37. That was before she saw Monday’s forecast.

She readjusted. The time was no longer the goal. Top 15 would be nice. Sellers ran smarter — her second 13.1 miles were six seconds faster than her first 13.1 miles.

Her time was 2:44:04. She didn’t think much of it. After all, Kawauchi beat her to the finish, and the male winner usually finishes about 15 minutes after the female winner in real time due to the staggered starts.

Maybe she finished in the top 10, she thought. She did pass four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan between miles 23 and 25, giving her hero a thumbs-up and telling her, “good job.”

“Shalane would have blown me away on a day with good conditions,” Sellers said.

As cameras focused on Kawauchi and Linden, Sellers sought out placement.

“I couldn’t really hear what people were saying,” she said. “I was a little out of it. When someone said second, I was totally in disbelief.”

Sellers had finished 4 minutes, 10 seconds, behind winner Desi Linden. But no other women were between her and Linden, a two-time Olympian.

A press conference followed. She sat next to unlikely third-place finisher, Canadian Krista DuChene, a 41-year-old mother of three who placed 35th at the Rio Olympics.

“I had to see it to believe it that I was third,” said DuChene, a registered dietitian. “It was very similar to when we had our third child after having two boys. It took me an hour to believe she was a girl.”

Fourth-place finisher Rachel Hyland has taught Spanish for the last seven years at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., 25 miles north of Boston.

Fifth-place finisher Jessica Chichester, a nurse practitioner, didn’t even start in the elite women’s wave.

Sixth-place Nicole Dimercurio was 73rd at the 2016 Olympic Trials.

They all beat some of the world’s greatest distance runners. Many of the elites dropped out, but the forecast was well-known days ahead of the race. Kenyans and Ethiopians combined to win the previous 10 Boston Marathons. On Monday, all three Ethiopian elites failed to finish. Same for two of the three Kenyans.

Sellers and the other unknowns at the top of the leaderboard savored one of the gnarliest days in Boston history.

“I still think I’m going to wake up, and it’s going to be a dream,” Sellers told LetsRun.com.

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