Most elite distance runners are committed to the sport full time, paid by a sponsor, and only race at most two marathons per year. Kawauchi, though, does none of those things. He is a government employee in Japan, and is unable to accept any sponsorships from shoe companies. He coaches himself and often runs over 10 marathons per year, along with a number of half marathons and even a few ultras. What makes Kawauchi so impressive, though, is his consistently fast times. Although he doesn't win races very often, he is always near the front, which is wildly impressive considering the number of times he races a year. He has run 26 marathons faster than 2hrs 12mins, and 81 marathons faster than 2hrs 20mins, displaying consistency like no other.
Desi Linden is a popular favorite in the US among the running community. She has represented the US in the Olympics twice, both times in the marathon, in 2012 and 2016. In 2011 she snagged second place in Boston, losing by a painful two seconds, and up until 2018 she had not won a major marathon. Nonetheless, when she stepped to the starting line in 2018 she really didn't think that would be her year to win either. Due to the insane weather conditions, Desi considered dropping out a number of times during the early parts of the race. But toward the end she eventually realized that she might be the strongest runner left in the field. She tells people that when the going gets tough her mantra is "keep showing up." As the first American to win the Boston marathon since 1985 the rest of the country was sure glad she showed up that day.