History was made at the 2017 New York City Marathon finish line on Sunday. We watched as Shalane Flanagan of Portland, OR, took first place in the women’s race, marking the first time an American woman has won in 40 years (the last to finish first was Miki Gorman in 1977). Finishing at at 2:26:53, Flanagan was nearly a full minute faster than three-time defending champion, Mary Keitany of Kenya, who was seen hugging and congratulating the champion afterward.
At 36 years old, Flanagan has a history of competitive running—she finished second in her first NYC Marathon in 2010—but this was still no easy triumph. A fracture in her lower back kept Flanagan out of the Boston Marathon earlier this year, so she challenged herself to train hard with New York City in sight.
Her win is nonetheless inspiring. So, we’ve rounded up five facts you should know about this first-place runner.
She comes from running royalty
Flanagan’s mother, Cheryl Treworgy (formerly Bridges) set a women’s world record, finishing at 2:49:40 in the Culver City Marathon in 1971, while her father, Steve Flanagan, was a star distance runner who achieved a marathon best of 2:18 and represented the US in several world cross country championships.
But her parents didn’t force her to become a runner
Flanagan started her athletic career in swimming and soccer. “She was a midfielder who just never wore down,” her mother said in an interview with Runner’s World. In high school, she encouraged her daughter to join a Junior Olympics cross country race, which Flanagan went on to win. Treworgy recounts saying, “Shalane, you’re going to be there, why not try it?” And so it began.
She is a four-time Olympian
Flanagan is a USA Track and Field Olympic medalist and is considered one of America’s top cross country athletes. At the 2008 Olympics, she won the 10,000m bronze, breaking her own record and becoming only the second American woman to ever win an Olympic medal at 10,000m.
She has a cookbook for athletes
Run Fast Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes is a New York Times Bestseller. It’s packed with over 100 flavorful, whole food recipes that focus on essential fats for performance. The book is co-authored by Elyse Kopecky, a chef, nutrition coach, and fellow runner. The friendship between the athletes started at the University of North Carolina, and then continued as they both took jobs with Nike (Flanagan as a runner and Kopecky as a digital marketing producer).
She has a killer record
Flanagan ran the fastest time ever by an American woman at the 2014 Boston Marathon, but that is only one of her many achievements. Her record is seemingly endless. Below are a few of the most notable placements, according to Runner’s World.
2014 Berlin Marathon, 2:21:14, 3rd place
2014 Boston Marathon, 2:22:02, 7th place
2013 Boston Marathon, 2:27:08, 4th place
2012 London Olympics Marathon, 2:25:51, 10th place
2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, 2:25:38, 1st place
2010 U.S. Half-Marathon Championship, 1:09:45, 1st place
2008 10,000m Beijing Olympics, 30:34:49, 3rd place