Rochester Hills' Desiree Linden clinches Olympic spot
Desiree Linden, a member of the Rochester Hills-based Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, earned a berth to the Rio Games after finishing second at the U.S. Olympic Team Marathon Trials Saturday.
The Rochester Hills resident was runner-up to Amy Cragg, who pulled away late to win in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 27 seconds.
Linden rallied in the final mile to finish second at 2:29:00. Third-place finisher Shalane Flanagan, who won the trials four years ago, made her fourth Olympic team by coming in at 2:29:26.
“That was the toughest marathon ever. It felt like so much longer," Linden said. "It was an absolute grind out there. It was a mental battle.
"You just let them go and trust and stay and it will work out fine. Just stay tough and it kept working out. I’m super happy to be on another team because you can’t take these things for granted at all.”
Cragg and Flanagan, who are training partners, ran to the early lead and raced together until Cragg pulled off the victory. Linden overtook Flanagan in the final three miles.
Runners competed in record heat, with the official temperature at 66 degrees at the start. The trials record was 61 degrees in 1960. The temperature rose to 75 by the end of the race.
Linden was runner-up to Flanagan at the U.S. trials in 2012. She was the top American finisher at in her last two marathons — New York in 2014, and Boston last spring after recovering from a stress fracture in her femur.
"It was absolutely a war of attrition," Linden said. "Amy was so impressive and Shalane is tough as nails. Late in the race, I didn’t even know if I was going to be on the team. I was cramping hard, but you fight for every step.”
Cragg is from Leavenworth, Kan., and Flanagan is from Marblehead, Mass.
Galen Rupp of Portland, Ore., won the men's race in 2:11:12. He will be joined on the Olympic team by Meb Keflezighi of San Diego and Jared Ward of Provo, Utah.