A two-time Olympian, Desiree Linden, became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon since 1985 on Monday – but it’s the runner-up who is making headlines.
Sarah Sellers ran the 26.2 mile (42km) course in a time of two hours 44 minutes four seconds, finishing just minutes behind Linden.
Monday’s race was only the second marathon that the 26-year-old nurse has run. The first, in Utah, she won to qualify for the prestigious Boston event.
She was a keen track and field competitor in college, but is an unknown to the professional running world. Spectators on social media could only find accounts for a country music star of the same name.
Sellers ran the race without sponsors or an agent. She has to wake up at 04:00 to squeeze in training before long anaesthesiology shifts at Banner Health Centre in Arizona.
The nurse told US media that she only signed up for Monday’s event because her younger brother was participating.
After paying the $185 (£130) entrance fee, she leaves the east coast with $75,000 (£52,000) in prize money.
Her husband, Blake Sellers, told the Boston Globe that his wife didn’t know she had come second until she had completed the mammoth run.
“I didn’t even know it was a possibility,” the runner-up told the newspaper. “I was trying to ask officials what place I was in. I had no idea when I crossed the finish line.”
The 122nd edition of the world’s oldest marathon threw up several surprise results, with rain-soaked and windy conditions contributing to upsets.
Ethiopian runner Mamitu Daska, who led for much of the women’s’ race, had to withdraw before the end.
“Looking at my time going into the race, I shouldn’t be on the same page as any of the top 20 women… They’re in a different league than me.”
The winner of the men’s race, Yuki Kawauchi from Japan, also beat favourites to provide an upset.
He warmed up for Monday’s race by running a half-marathon at home dressed as a panda.
Just under 30,000 people competed in Monday’s run – the city’s fourth since a terror attack at the finish line in 2013 killed three people.
Sellers told US media that she planned to use her prize money to “make a dent” in her and her husband’s student debts from graduate school.
She plans to return to Arizona for work on Wednesday, and laughed off media questions about turning professional.
“I definitely plan on working,” she said.
“I love working as a nurse anaesthetist. It does make training a little bit challenging, but long term I love both and I wouldn’t want to give up working right now.”
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