Shalane Flanagan, My Most Famous Relative

Until recently, my only relative with any serious claim to fame was my cousin Sherry, who set the world record in the women’s marathon in 1971. She had a number of “firsts” — first woman with an athletic scholarship at a public university, first woman on the cover of Runner’s World, designer of the first running bra for women with larger breasts (designed after she had kids), and so on. There is a great interview with her (Cheryl Treworgy) that goes over a lot of the early history, including a male runner trying to force her off the road during her world record run. These days, she is a track and field photojournalist, with her photos at

This week, cousin Sherry has been eclipsed by her daughter, Shalane Flanagan. Shalane holds US records in the 3000m, 5000m, and 10000m. She won Olympic bronze in the 10000m on the first day of track and field competition in Beijing, and has qualified for the finals in the 5000m. There has been essentially no coverage of distance events on TV, so check out the Runners World Olympic coverage, which has been excellent, even liveblogging races. Here is their page for the women’s 5000m races. If you are really dedicated, you can join the Facebook Unofficial Shalane Flanagan Fan Club.

Shalane Flanagan after winning bronze medal in 10000m

Photo is from Runner’s World, no credit given on site.

When my cousin was running competitively, there were no distance events for women at the Olympics. She surely would have made the team and maybe have had a chance at a medal. Shalane went to the Athens Olympics on the US team and Cheryl went as a photographer. That was a great experience for both of them, but nothing like Beijing. Go Shalane!


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