Rachel Hyland, Andover Girls Track & Field and Cross Country Coach and Instructor in Spanish, finished fourth out of 25,746 finishers at the Boston Marathon on Monday, with a time of 2:44:29 hours.
In an interview with The Phillipian, Hyland said, “There were a lot of emotions. I think the beginning was tough because we were pretty cold. [During] miles ten to 13, it was really pouring, and the wind picked up, and [I] felt these huge gusts. Luckily, I was in a pack of women where we all helped each other out through that stretch.”
Hyland’s race was highlighted by strong pacing, with roughly even halves of 1:22:13 hours and 1:22:16 hours. Hyland’s last 10 kilometers were also consistent, especially from miles 21 through 25, during which Hyland averaged slightly over six minutes per mile. By contrast, some of Hyland’s competitors began to slow down after the halfway mark. For instance, 2017 World Marathon Champion Shalane Flanagan held a 31-second lead over Hyland at the halfway point, but Flanagan’s second half of 1:26:49 hours allowed Hyland to pass her between the 35-kilometer and 40-kilometer marks of the race.
Several of the athletes Hyland beat included Flanagan, who finished seventh; 2017 Boston Marathon Champion Edna Kiplagat, who finished ninth; and American 10,000-meters and half-marathon national record holder Molly Huddle, who finished sixteenth.
After a playing field hockey for a year in middle school, Hyland decided to join the cross country team and has been competing ever since. She competed in Division III of the NCAA for Williams College and, in the fall of 2008, captained her team to a third-place finish finish at the NCAA DIII Championships, earning All-American honors — a recognition given to the most competitive athletes in the nation within a sport for Divisions I, II, and III. In 2006, she also earned All-American honors when she placed thirty-first at the same championship; Williams earned eighth place.
Hyland’s coach at Williams, Peter Farwell, wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “In college she learned to overcome obstacles, injuries, setbacks. She grew as a runner, and has always been a ‘gritty’ competitor. Her All-American finish in [the cross country] NCAA was in the muddiest conditions I have ever seen! Rachel was always spirited and determined. She now has a laser focus on her goals and stays fully committed.”
Hyland has run nine marathons in her lifetime. In 2012, she ran her first and only other Boston Marathon, finishing forty-eighth in 3:08:18 hours. At the 2015 Chicago Marathon, Hyland placed seventeenth and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials with her personal-best time of 2:41:26 hours. At the Olympic Trials, held on February 13, 2016, she placed forty-sixth with a time of 2:46:21. In October, Hyland qualified again for the 2020 Olympic trials at the Berlin Marathon, with a twenty-first place finish in 2:41:50 hours.
Hyland received warm congratulations from Andover students when she returned to campus on Tuesday.
She said, “I walked into my Spanish-523 class with a lot of Seniors on Tuesday, and they made me wait outside for five minutes while they signed a card. When I walked in, they were all standing up and presenting me with a huge bouquet of flowers, and I was brought to tears. The track team made a sign, they made me cookies, they started clapping when I showed up to practice. It was amazing… Former Andover students and athletes that have written me really thoughtful notes, all of that is priceless.”