By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(21-Dec) — Olympic medalists and Rio 2016 Olympians Shalane Flanagan, Meb Keflezighi and Galen Rupp will lead the home country charge at the 2017 Boston Marathon, organizers reported today, just three of a strong American team which will toe the starting line in Hopkinton, Mass., on Monday, April 17.

Flanagan, 35, of Portland, Ore., who won the bronze medal at 10,000m in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is a Boston Marathon veteran.  Growing up in nearby Marblehead, Mass., Flanagan has run Boston three times, finishing fourth in 2013 (2:27:08), sixth in 2014 (2:22:02 after a first half of 1:09:27) and ninth in 2015 (2:27:47).  She is the fastest-ever American woman at Boston, and has an undying passion for her hometown marathon.

“It’s kind of a comforting place for me, it’s not scary or daunting,” Flanagan told of Boston’s famously hilly course in 2015.  “I’m really comfortable on the course, and I have great memories along the way,” she added.

Keflezighi, 41, of San Diego, Calif., the only man to have won both the Boston (2014) and New York City (2009) marathons while also holding an Olympic medal (silver, marathon, 2004), will be running his final Boston Marathon as an elite athlete.  He won the 2014 race with a bold mid-race breakaway that delivered him to the finish line in Back Bay in 2:08:37, still his personal best.  He was the first American man to win the race in 31 years.

“It was my dream to win Boston,” an elated and humbled Keflezighi told reporters after the 2014 race.  He continued: “This is probably the most meaningful win for an American.”

Rupp, 30, of Portland, Ore., will make his Boston debut on the heels of his bronze medal performance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Marathon, a remarkable accomplishment because he won that medal in only his second marathon and after competing in the 10,000m just eight days before where he finished fifth.  A versatile performer from the mile (3:50.92) to the marathon (2:10:05), Rupp is coached by Alberto Salazar who won Boston in 1982.

“It was tough,” Rupp said after the marathon in Rio. “Emotionally, I was pretty drained after that 10,000m. I was very disappointed after that. But I think it’s just a matter of collecting yourself, giving it a few days to grieve and be angry, but then you focus on the next one. I had someone tell me that there’s still another chapter to write so I just had to move on.”

Also competing for the unofficial Team USA in Boston will be 2016 Rio Olympic Marathoners Des Linden (2:22:38 PB) and Jared Ward (2:11:30).  Both athletes ran very well in Rio, with Linden finishing seventh and Ward finishing sixth.  Linden is the second-fastest American ever at Boston, while Ward will be making his Boston debut.

Other Americans in the race will be four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman, recently third at the TCS New York City Marathon; Shadrack Biwott, recently fifth in New York; Sean Quigley, who has a 2:13:30 personal best; Clara Santucci, the 2015 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon champion; Esther Atkins, the 2014 USA marathon champion; and Jordan Hasay, who will make her marathon debut.

“Our audiences have come to enjoy an American resurgence at the Boston Marathon in recent years, punctuated by Meb Keflezighi’s 2014 victory,” observed Tom Grilk, Boston Athletic Association CEO through a statement. “We were very impressed with the American team’s performance at the Olympic Games in August. Our long-time partners at John Hancock Financial have done a magnificent job in assembling these top Americans, all of whom we look forward to welcoming in April.”

The Hancock team agreed.  “We are thrilled to have such a deep and talented American field this year,” said Rob Friedman, Hancock’s head of sports sponsorships. “In our 32 years of sponsorship of the Boston Marathon, we’ve always invited strong international fields and the elite American team is always ready to challenge for the prestigious Boston title. The American team has found success at the highest levels of the sport and they will certainly add excitement for spectators and fans on the course and around the globe on Patriots’ Day.”