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Des Linden: How She Found Her Footing in San Diego

The Boston Marathon winner looks back at how her Chula Vista roots led those famous feet to the Olympics
Des Linden: How She Found Her Footing in San Diego

Des Linden: How She Found Her Footing in San Diego

Photo by Oliver Baker/Pocket Outdoor Media


Age: 35

Hometown: Chula Vista (currently living in Charlevoix, Michigan)

Races: 151

Miles Logged: More than 75,000 (that’s like 300 round trips from San Diego to Los Angeles)

Favorite Trail: Torrey Pines State Reserve to Swami’s State Beach

Running Anthem: “Glorious” by Macklemore, featuring Skylar Grey

Putting one foot in front of the other isn’t exercise for Des Linden. It’s a job. “I tend to wear black socks to races. It’s business attire.”

Last year she earned her biggest payoff to date, winning the 2018 Boston Marathon in 2:39:54—the first American woman to win in 33 years—in the face of 30-degree temperatures, up to 45 mph wind gusts, and constant showers. It’s a far cry from what she grew up with in Chula Vista.

“It didn’t happen overnight,” says Linden, who’d placed in the top five three times. “Boston was my first marathon [in 2007]. It made me fall in love with running 26.2.”

She now lives in Michigan with her husband, originally to be closer to her training team, the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project, and has been a celebrity ever since her win, landing a sponsorship with Brooks Running, gracing magazine covers, and presenting Taylor Swift with a Billboard Music Award.

Linden ran her first race, the Junior Carlsbad 5000, at age eight. Soon after, she joined the MLK Blasters Youth Track & Field Club and eventually was running loops around Hilltop High School for track and cross-country practice.

Growing up near the Olympic training center in Chula Vista, world-stage ambitions weren’t all that far-fetched. “It was talked about like it was really doable.”

She represented Team USA in the women’s marathon for the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Since graduating from Arizona State University, where she was a two-time All American in track and cross-country, Linden has run around seven marathons a year for the past 13 years.

After every race, she stays off the pavement for a two-week recovery, but at day 14 she’s lacing up again. She runs 18 miles a day, which burns through two pairs of shoes a month.

“I’ll do more marathons, and I’ll try to make the Olympic team in 2020. There’s always another race.”

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