Frontline workers surprised by champion Des Linden

Front-line workers at the Boston Marathon finish line on Patriots’ Day received a once-in-a-lifetime surprise as champion Des Linden joined them for a jog and invited them to run in this fall’s marathon, sparking tears on Boylston Street.

“Oh my God,” said Rochelle Solomon, a compliance officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, standing near the finish line Monday morning.

“Anything is possible, and running is a gateway,” added Solomon, who’s also a Black Girls RUN! coordinator.

Solomon’s coach Gael Henville, crying as she hugged Solomon, said it was “such a deserving surprise.”

“She has worked so hard in her training to develop herself, and here she is today,” Henville said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

On Monday, Linden also announced that she will compete in the 125th Boston Marathon.

“I’ve fallen in love with this race,” Linden said at the finish line. “I’m always excited to be here.”

The 2018 champ earlier Monday surprised the five front-line workers and community members on Boylston Street and joined them in a symbolic running of the inaugural Patriots’ Day Mile.

Then after crossing the finish line, Linden invited them to run the fall race.

“I think they have all the keys, the tools: just the perseverance and the tenacity and the grit,” said Linden, who will run the Boston Marathon for the eighth time this year. “Those are what it takes to run this course.

“They have busy lives, so I would remind them to train properly,” she added. “I think as long as you put in the work, you’re going to thrive on this course.”

Linden will be the first member of the John Hancock Professional Athlete Team.

The other front-line workers and community members honored for their service, and who were invited to run this fall’s race, are:

  • Staff Sgt. Dorothy Anderson, who joined the Massachusetts National Guard in 2007. She currently supports COVID-19 response operations.
  • Lindsay Devers, a nurse anesthetist at Massachusetts General Hospital. She gained fame for her marathon attempt last Patriots’ Day when she inadvertently spelled “Boston Strog” when completing 26.2 miles, forgetting the “n.”
  • Jessie Chen, a member of the BEN Running Club. She serves as a board member of the Lingzi Foundation and recently helped organize the #StopAsianHate relay along the Boston Marathon route.
  • Chris Vasquez, a member of the PIONEERS Run Crew in Boston, a group that promotes diversity in the Boston running community with weekly runs in Franklin Park and Fields Corner.

The Boston Marathon is traditionally run on Patriots’ Day, the third Monday in April, but the race was postponed this year to the fall amid coronavirus concerns.

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