As It Happens

Arizona nurse in 'total disbelief' after placing 2nd at the Boston Marathon

Sarah Sellers ranked 42nd going into Monday's race, but unexpectedly outpaced some of the world's top runners to finish second.

'I was waiting for someone to tell me it was a joke,' says unexpected runner-up Sarah Sellers

Sarah Sellers approaches the 24-mile marker of the 2018 Boston Marathon on Monday. The Arizona nurse came in second. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
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​When Sarah Sellers learned she was the runner-up at the Boston Marathon women's open, she said she couldn't quite wrap her head around it.

"It was just total disbelief," the 26-year-old Arizona nurse anaesthetist told As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner.

Sellers ranked 42nd going into Monday's race, but outpaced some of the world's top runners to finish four minutes and 10 seconds behind two-time Olympian Desiree Linden.

She cleared the 42.2-kilometre marathon in two hours, 44 minutes and four seconds. Canada's Krista DuChene came in third 16 seconds later. 

"When I saw my husband and told him I was second, seeing how excited he was, that kind of made it real," she said.

"I still was kind of waiting for someone to tell me it was a joke."

Blame it on the weather

It was the second marathon Sellers had ever run. She also did some track and field in college, she said. 

So what propelled this relative unknown to pass outperform elite runners in Boston?

"The weather conditions were really kind of a wild card that everyone got dealt and, thankfully, I think it played to my advantage," she said.

Sellers crosses the finish line. (Ryan McBrude/AFP/Getty Images)

A field of 30,000 runners fought drenching rain, temperatures around 3 C and gusts of up to 51 km/hour on the trek from Hopkinton to Copley Square.

While that's nothing like arid temperatures in Arizona where Sellers lives and trained, rain and sleet is nothing new for Sellers.

"Coming from northern Utah, where we get a lot of snow, I wasn't completely unfamiliar with those conditions," she said.

'Nothing to lose' — but plenty to gain 

Not to mention the fact that she had nothing riding on the race. 

"I had no pressure. My family cared, but nobody else cared how I did," she said. "Otherwise, yeah, no pressure going in. Nothing to lose."

Aside from media attention and bragging rights, Sellers' performance earned her  $75,000 US in prize money — another shock to the system.

"That was very exciting to learn," she said. "I had no idea what the prize money structure was because I didn't think I had any shot of being in the running."

Sellers and her husband both recently finished graduate school. So while she plans to take some of that cash and celebrate, most money will go to paying off some of their students loans, she said. 

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Associated Press. Interview produced by Katie Gelleff.

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