Shalane Flanagan has plenty of good reasons to win the Boston Marathon. Her parents were both elite marathoners. No American -- male or female -- has won in Boston in nearly 30 years. She came in fourth last year and she is a hometown favorite. But most of all, Flanagan wants to win to answer last year's tragic bombing which she calls "a personal attack on my city." Despite the rigorous training program that will bring her to Boston in peak form, Flanagan isn't above a little superstition when it comes to practicing on the course: she never crosses the finish line in training, saving that moment for the real race. Flanagan talks to Anderson Cooper for a 60 Minutes story to be broadcast Sunday, April 13 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
As 60 Minutes cameras record one of her training runs along the last stretch of the course on Boylston Street, Flanagan stops right at the yellow line. "I don't cross it. I've only crossed the finish line once...and I haven't done it in practice. So, I'll save that for the day," she tells Cooper.
The day, Boston Marathon 2014, will be April 21, a year and a week from last year's event when two bombs wreaked havoc near the finish line, killing three and injuring 264. "I was angry. I was really pissed off that someone would do this...it was a personal attack to my city," says the 33-year-old runner who grew up just north of the city in Marblehead.
Flanagan says it was especially personal to her because as a child, she watched her father run the Boston Marathon close to where the bombs exploded last year. "It was a surreal moment to think of that...I was a little kid watching my dad run right there. I mean, that could easily have been me or my sister," says Flanagan.
A professional runner living in Portland, Ore., Flanagan is sponsored by Nike and works with one of America's top distance running coaches, Jerry Schumacher. Many believe Flanagan could be the best chance for an American to finally win at the Boston Marathon, the biggest event in a sport that's been dominated by East African runners for decades. Flanagan ran her first marathon in New York City in 2010 and finished second, the best for an American woman at the event in 20 years. She is at her peak; she is motivated like few others in the race.
"There's probably not a day that goes by that I don't think about the events that unfolded [at last year's Boston Marathon]...It just gave more meaning and more incentive to pour everything I have into winning it," she tells Cooper.