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Des Linden cracks open beer after satisfying Boston Marathon, future unclear

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BOSTON — Around mile 18, Des Linden thought to herself, “hang up the shoes, retire.” Then she thought about Gabe Grunewald, her Brooks Running teammate who has battled cancer several times in the last decade.

“I thought about every mile being for her and making it matter,” Linden said on NBCSN. “Be brave like Gabe.”

Linden, boosted by those feelings and the Boston crowd cheering on the defending champion, moved up from ninth place to cross the Boylston Street finish line in fifth, 3 minutes, 29 seconds behind Ethiopian winner Worknesh Degefa.

“Any time you finish top five in Boston, that’s a win,” she said on CBS Boston.

Linden, who last year became the first U.S. female runner to win the world’s oldest annual marathon since 1985, appeared to be getting emotional in the final strides before blowing kisses to the crowd.

“That was me almost vomiting,” she corrected in a post-race press conference. Minutes later, Linden cracked open a large beer can given to her by manager Josh Cox and left the dais.

Was it her goodbye to Boston? Linden is 35 years old and, even if she continues elite racing as expected, unlikely to race here next year given the Olympic Trials are Feb. 29. What’s next?

“Lunch, right now, for sure,” she said on NBCSN. “Then we’ll regroup.”

Linden certainly has motivation for one more Olympic try. She dropped out of her first Olympic marathon in 2012 with a stress fracture in her femur. She was seventh in Rio, missing a medal by less than two minutes.

But the U.S. women’s marathon field is deeper than ever. Take Jordan Hasay, the 27-year-old who finished third on Monday. Linden counseled Hasay as they jockeyed in the chase group behind Degefa, who broke away in the fifth mile.

“She’s going to have a breakthrough on this course,” Linden said of Hasay, who bounced back after withdrawing from spring and fall marathons in 2018 with heel fractures. “She’s going to make a name for herself. She is the future. Well, she is right now of American distance running.”

Hasay will definitely continue on, announcing she will race the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13, eyeing 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor‘s American record of 2:19:36. Hasay became the second-fastest American in history at her second career marathon in Chicago in 2017, clocking 2:20:57.

On Monday, Hasay said she heard fans scream “Des” at her and was convinced they were mixing up the Americans. That sat just fine with her.

“Because I watch last year’s video all the time,” of Linden winning, Hasay said. “To be honest, I was still pretending I was her down the straightaway winning last year. I was sitting here, watching it, tearing up.”

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Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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