Raindrops rolled off of Desi Linden’s shoulders as she took the lead in the Boston Marathon with just a few miles to go. Every stride increased the separation between Linden and the rest of the runners–now vanishing back into the gray skies. Fans wrapped in ponchos lined the streets, screaming and shaking cowbells as Linden raced by. With each mile, the rain persisted, and so did Linden.
In the Granskou Hall basement, another storm was brewing: electric energy that tore Jackie Turner, Avery Selberg and I away from our homework and to the NBC live broadcast. My teammates and I simply couldn’t focus on our studies while the first American in 33 years was about to win the Boston Marathon.
“I’ve gotta get this [paper] done,” Jackie said, rapidly switching her gaze from the T.V. to her laptop. “I want to stand up. I’m shaking, but I’ve gotta get this done.”
At the final commercial break, Jackie, Avery and I studied at super-speed so we could dedicate all of our attention to the marathon once the broadcast returned.
“If Desi Linden wins, I’m not going to class for the rest of the week,” Jackie said as she realized that her excitement was seeping into her schoolwork; she had accidentally typed the last few sentences of her paper in all caps.
When the commercial break was over, the three of us abandoned our laptops and stood directly in front of the T.V. We squealed and gasped throughout the last mile, and as Des Linden broke the tape, our squeals transformed to full-on screams.
I formally apologize to the students who were doing laundry in the adjacent room.
Witnessing historic races (even through a television screen) is exhilarating, and sharing the experience with teammates is even better. Even more inspiring was seeing a woman come from behind, help other athletes during the race and break a 33-year streak all in the pouring rain. As my coach pointed out hours after the race was over, Linden trains in Michigan–receiving similar weather conditions to those in Sioux Falls. While several elite athletes dropped out because of the chilled rain, Linden persevered. It was refreshing to see an athlete who doesn’t train in year-round perfect conditions succeed.
“Desi Linden,” Jackie said. “It’s like music to my ears. Those are going to be my two favorite words for the rest of my life.”