This full-time nurse with no sponsors shocked the Boston Marathon with a second-place finish

Desiree Linden made history at this year’s Boston Marathon as the first American woman to win the storied race since 1985.

What was more shocking, though, was the runner-up in the women’s field Monday.

Unexpected First And Second Place Finishes

In her second career marathon race, Sarah Sellers wasn’t listed as one of the elite runners. According to The Wall Street Journal, she doesn’t have any sponsors. Still, Sellers crossed the finish line in 2:44:04, a little more than 4 minutes behind Linden’s time (2:39:54), qualifying for the US Olympic trials.


The combination of the wind and rain made conditions difficult, and it was the coldest Boston Marathon in 30 years. But it was worth it: Sellers leaves Boston with $75,000 in prize money.

“I think I’m going to wake up and this will be a dream,” Sellers said. “It was a like a hurricane out there.”

Linden (below), 34, is a two-time Olympian and an established marathon runner; she had finished second at Boston before, back in 2011.

desiree linden boston photo
Getty Images | Scott Eisen

Sellers, however, was unknown to the general public until April 16. Her second-place finish — the first 1-2 finish for American women at the Boston Marathon since 1979 — was a shocker.

According to Kit Fox at Runners World, the first question asked at Sellers’ press conference was, “Please introduce yourself. Tell us who you are.”

Who Is Sarah Sellers?

According to the Weber State University athletics website, Sellers, 26, is a full-time nurse anesthetist who lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, Blake. Originally from Utah, she graduated from Ogden High School in Ogden, which is about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Sellers attended Weber State, where she was a standout track and field and cross-country runner from 2009 to 2012. There, she won the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters three times — each — at the Big Sky outdoor championships. She also won the 5,000 meters twice and 3,000 meters once at the indoor championships.

She also did well in class, graduating with a nursing degree and a 4.0 GPA.

After graduation, she continued to work with Weber State track and field coach Paul Pilkington. Since she also has a full-time job, training either happens at 8 p.m. or 4 a.m. In September, she ran her first marathon in Huntsville, Utah, which she won and set a course record.

Sellers’ finish at the Boston Marathon is a best for Utah natives.

“This is a game changer for Sarah, in just her second marathon,” Pilkington said, according to the Weber State website. “This was one of the best fields they have ever had and was really tough conditions. I knew she was in good shape because her workouts were going so well. She has persevered through injuries, graduate school and has a full-time job, and still able to train in world class conditions.”

sarah sellers boston marathon photo
Getty Images | Scott Eisen

More About Desiree Linden

In honor of Linden’s speedy run, here are some fast facts to know about this elite athlete:

1. She’s An Olympian

Linden is a career athlete, not to mention an Olympian. She’s represented Team USA twice before: at the 2012 Olympics in London and in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. At the latter games, she finished seventh, less than two seconds from a medal.

Linden is obviously used to the highly competitive nature of long-distance running, and she has never let setbacks keep her down — not even a femoral stress fracture in 2012 which required a long rehabilitation and forced her to drop out of her marathon at the London Olympics.

desiree linden rio photo
Getty Images | Alexander Hassenstein

2. She’s A Team Player

In a tweet she posted weeks before her historic win, Linden said she has always believed in the importance of continuing to “show up,” meaning that she keeps working even when times get tough. During the 2018 Boston Marathon, not only did Linden show up for herself, she actually slowed down mid-race to wait for fellow American runner Shalane Flanagan.

When Flanagan stopped to take a bathroom break, rather than race on without her, Linden stayed back to help bring Flanagan back into the leader’s pack. Linden even offered to help block the wind for Flanagan, which was gusting up to 30 mph on Monday in Boston.

desiree davila photo
Getty Images | Joshua Blanchard

3. She Holds Two Degrees

Linden went to Arizona State University and graduated with a B.A. in religious studies and a B.S. in psychology. Oh, and she was an All-American track runner for the university as well.

desiree davila photo
Getty Images | Joshua Blanchard

4. She’s Got Midwestern Roots

When she’s not off running marathons around the world, Linden calls Michigan her home. The weather in Boston on Monday was cold and rainy — apparently very similar to the April weather in Detroit. Did that tolerance for nasty weather help her win? It’s certainly possible.

But of course it was likely more than that. Perhaps Linden’s years of preparation, struggles and setbacks prepared her to be the champion that would conquer the rest of the field — and Mother Nature.

desiree linden boston 2018 photo
Getty Images | Scott Eisen

Written by Jill Martin for CNN and Bridget Sharkey for Simplemost.

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