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Olympic champion Kikkan Randall will run NYC Marathon four months after breast cancer treatment

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Kikkan Randall, who was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after a gold medal in the cross-country skiing team sprint at the 2018 Olympics, will run Nov. 3 in the New York City Marathon as part of a group of people with inspirational stories, race organizers announced Monday.

Randall has been named as one of 26 runners on Team #MovedMe. Other runners in the group include Dave Fraser, who was born with cerebral palsy and will be running his 12th NYC Marathon; Sean Hennessey, a former college athlete and recovering addict; and Mama Cax, a model with a prosthetic leg.

Randall racked up medals in World Cup and World Championship competition from 2009 to 2014 and went into the 2014 Olympics as a heavy favorite in the sprint, but she struggled and lost in the quarterfinals. Four years later, after taking time off to start a family, she and Jessie Diggins teamed up to win the team sprint in Pyeongchang, only the second cross-country skiing medal the U.S. has ever won and the first for U.S. women.

VIDEO: Randall and Diggins take gold

She revealed her breast cancer diagnosis in July 2018 and blogged about her treatment for the next several months. Known for having pink streaks in her hair, she quickly went bald during chemotherapy and showed off her new look in an August 2018 blog post.

In the last few months, she has put more of her story on social media, and she showed that the pink is back.

 

On July 2, she announced that she had completed infusion treatment.

Randall will be running on behalf of AKTIV Against Cancer, which works to ensure physical activity for cancer patients. Coincidentally, the foundation was established by a nine-time NYC Marathon winner, Grete Waitz.

She is also a board member of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

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Des Linden decides to keep racing, enters New York City Marathon

Des Linden
New York Road Runners
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Des Linden says she’s running every marathon as if it’s her last. She could have said goodbye on April 15, finishing fifth in defense of her Boston Marathon title, blowing kisses to the crowd after denying regurgitation.

Instead, Linden plans to race the New York City Marathon for the third time and second year in a row on Nov. 3.

The two-time U.S. Olympian placed fifth in 2014 and sixth in 2018 at the five-borough event. She decided to sign up again after a post-Boston break and a weeklong Hong Kong vacation.

“Just been logging a lot of miles deciding what would be next and got the itch to start doing workouts and getting the longer stuff,” Linden said. “It’s the biggest stage in the world, so it’s hard to pass up on that opportunity. It’s a no-brainer. I like tough, technical courses.”

Linden, 36, could become the oldest female U.S. Olympic marathoner since 2004 next year. But, taking the one-at-a-time mantra that Shalane Flanagan adopted late in her career, she’s not (yet) committing to the Olympic trials on Feb. 29.

Neither of Linden’s previous Olympic experiences was especially memorable. 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. The Kenyan-born gold and silver medalists were later busted for EPO and are serving lengthy doping bans.

“I don’t feel like I have anything to prove and anything unfinished,” at the Olympics, Linden said. “Quite frankly, the last experience is a hard sell to get back out there to try to compete for medals when you’re not even really sure what the field is all about. It’s a little bit difficult to be excited about that with the way we are about the [World Marathon] Majors. People investing in anti-doping have really been solving that problem [at the majors]. It’s a little tricky [at the Olympics], but certainly representing your country is special.”

Linden did acknowledge that a technical, undulating course like New York could provide ideal preparation for the Olympic trials course in Atlanta that, like New York, is not expected to produce fast times. Linden also dismissed it being too tight of a turnaround from the latest of the fall major marathons to a trials in the winter.

Linden did not race fall marathons in 2011 or 2015 ahead of Olympic trials, though the trials race was earlier each of those years. If she does race at next year’s trials, it would mark her shortest break between marathons of what would be her 20 times contesting the distance.

“There’s ample time to recover and get back at it,” she said. “I don’t need to go and run a fast time or get a qualifier or anything. It was just about picking the race that was going to get me excited.”

None of the other accomplished U.S. female marathoners are in the New York field. Flanagan, 38 and the 2017 New York winner, hasn’t said if she will go for a fifth Olympics. Amy Cragg, the 2017 World bronze medalist, and Jordan Hasay, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner in history, are racing Chicago on Oct. 13.

The New York favorite will be Kenyan Mary Keitany, who won four of the last five titles and has Linden’s respect.

“She’s the best of the best,” Linden said. “When you race her, it’s more about running super smart and staying within yourself and doing all the things you can control in your own race and hoping she finds a way to beat herself, which she’s done on the New York course in the past, but it’s not very often that Mary has a bad day on these stakes.”

MORE: Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2-hour marathon bid moved out of London

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New York City Marathon breaks record for most marathon finishers

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A total of 52,812 runners finished the New York City Marathon on Sunday, breaking the world record for marathon finishers.

New York held the previous record of 51,394 finishers, set in 2016. New York also has the Nos. 3 and 4 marks all-time, its 50,766 finishers in 2017 and 50,530 in 2014.

The New York City Marathon, which debuted in 1970, is known as the world’s largest annual marathon.

Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa and Kenyan Mary Keitany won the men’s and women’s races Sunday with the second-fastest times for each gender in course history. The top Americans were 2017 winner Shalane Flanagan (third) and Rio Olympian Jared Ward (sixth).

Notable finishers included five-time Olympic track runner Bernard Lagat (18th in his marathon debut in 2:17:20), four-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi (2,165th in 3:10:34 in a non-competitive effort) and 2014 Olympic luge bronze medalist Erin Hamlin (4:52:52).

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MORE: NYC Marathon Results | U.S. Marathon Rankings