Desiree Linden splashed her way through icy rain and a near-gale headwind to a Boston Marathon victory on Monday, the first American woman to win the race since 1985.
The two-time Olympian and 2011 Boston runner-up pulled away at the end of Heartbreak Hill and ran alone through Brookline to finish in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 39 minutes, 54 seconds. That's the slowest time for a women's winner since 1978.
"It's supposed to be hard," said Linden, who wiped the spray of rain from her eyes as she made her way down Boylston Street alone. "It's good to get it done."
Linden won despite stopping to wait for fellow American Shalane Flanagan when Flanagan stopped for a brief bathroom break.
"At six miles I was thinking, 'No way, this is not my day,'" she said. "Then you break the tape and you're like, 'This is not what I expected today.'"
Yuki Kawauchi passed defending champion Geoffrey Kirui in Kenmore Square to win the men's race in an unofficial 2:15:58 and earn Japan's first Boston Marathon title since 1987. Kirui slowed and stumbled across the Copley Square finish line 2:25 later, followed by Shadrack Biwott and three other U.S. men.
On the fifth anniversary of the finish line explosions that killed three and wounded hundreds more, Linden and Kawauchi led a field of 30,000 runners through a drenching rain, temperatures in the mid-30s and gusts of up to 32 mph on the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton.
"For me, it's the best conditions possible," Kawauchi said through an interpreter and with a wide smile.
In Copley Square, crowds thinned and muffled by the weather greeted Linden, the California native who lives in Michigan, with chants of "U-S-A!"
Lisa Larsen Weidenbach's 1985 victory was the last for an American woman - before the race began offering prize money that lured the top international competitors to the world's oldest and most prestigious annual marathon. Linden nearly ended the drought in 2011 when she was outkicked down Boylston Street and finished second by 2 seconds.
American Tatyana McFadden won the women's wheelchair race for the fifth time, pushing through puddles that sent the spray from her wheels into her eyes.
It's her 22nd majors win, the most of any female wheelchair athlete. Her unofficial finishing time was 2:04:39, the slowest in 30 years.
The Russian-born McFadden said she wore two jackets, with plastic bags between layers to stay dry, and hand warmers against her chest. The wet roads made it treacherous to turn and impossible to stop.
"I could start to feel my arms getting heavy just from all the rain soaking in," she said. "You can't put your brakes on right away, so you had to be tedious on the turns. I couldn't even see because the wind was so strong."
Marcel Hug won the men's wheelchair race for a fourth consecutive year.
The 33-year-old from Switzerland took a commanding lead in the second half of the race and held it to finish in an unofficial time of 1 hour, 46 minutes, 26 seconds. It was the slowest winning time in the men's wheelchair race in 31 years.
"It was just tough, it was so freezing," Hug said through chattering teeth as a volunteer draped a second towel around his shoulders. "I'm just very glad that I made it."
Hug finished 48 seconds ahead of 10-time winner Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa, who took No. 2 with an unofficial time of 1:47:14.
The frigid, rainy weather made things tough on runners and spectators alike on Monday.
Diana Dearden, a 26-year-old runner from Wilmington, Delaware, said she felt challenged by the rain and was worried the cold would lead to problems. She said she was "just trying to take it in stride" but she had lost hope of getting a good time.
Bruce Rogers, a 46-year-old runner from Rochester, New York, said he was nervous but excited for "one heck of an adventure."
To deal with the cold weather, elite runners were each given an extra bib in case they decide to shed layers along the Boston Marathon course.
Official bib numbers mark runners as official entrants and also serve to track them along the course. Top competitors are usually given a bib with their name on it instead of a number so fans can call it out as they cheer. This year, many of the runners kept that one on the inside and pinned their extra - with a number - to an outer layer.
Organizers say they do this from time to time when the weather is bad or likely to change during the race.
Spectators cheering on runners along the route Monday were asked to leave certain items home by both the Boston Athletic Association and city officials, including backpacks, glass bottles or containers andsticks or poles that could be used as weapons. Drones were also banned from the race course.
Security has been tightened along the course since 2013, when bombs planted near the finish line killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 others.
About 5,000 uniformed and undercover police officers, drones, bomb-sniffing dogs and trucks blocking streets are just some of the security measures used to protect runners and spectators at the marathon.
While there were no known threats, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said authorities did not want to get complacent.