UNC grad Shalane Flanagan finished tenth in the Olympic marathon today, with a time of 2:25:51. This was roughly 2:44 off the winning time of 2:23:07, set by Ethiopian Tiki Gelana. Flanagan stayed with the lead pack until it was whittled down to about seven; she then fell about ten seconds behind with Russian Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova around the 1:30 mark. Petrova Arkhipova soon made a push back to the lead pack (she would finish a surprising third) while Flanagan struggled somewhat. She would recover and stay thirty seconds off the lead pack for much of the race, even overtaking noted Kenyan Edna Kiplagat. Unfortunately, she faded fast over then last three miles, as four runners passed her down the stretch.
You can contrast her performance with Kara Goucher's, who fell off the lead pack earlier and spent most of the race hanging around twelfth. She had more in the tank at the end, and was able to finish stronger, but came in eleventh, sixteen seconds behind Flanagan. The course, four laps around various scenic areas of London that included a 180-degree turn, was rain-slick as the weather dumped water on the participants for much of the race. The third American, Desiree Davilia, backed out 2.2 miles into the race with a hip injury.
Flanagan's performance was the fastest Olympic performance by an American since Joan Benoit's Olympic record of 2:24:52 in 1984, and her tenth-place finish puts her behind only Benoit and Deena Kastor's 2000 bronze medal in the American history of the event. For a woman still relatively new to the race distance, it looks to be a promising next few years for the Tar Heel.