Two-time Olympian and 2018 Boston Marathon winner Des Linden has a new job.
In addition to her duties as a professional runner, Linden is now the chief running advisor for Brooks, her longtime gear and apparel sponsor.
It’s a role within the company created specifically for Linden, who enjoys broad popularity in the world of running. Julie Culley, sports marketing manager at Brooks, says Linden is one of the “most relatable runners” of recent decades. The company wants to capitalize on that.
Linden, 38, will seek to connect the brand’s executive team and shoe designers with runners of all ages and abilities, from youth to elite athletes. She’ll work on a variety of existing and new Brooks initiatives.
High among Linden’s priorities is connecting the elite side of the sport to people who run for fitness and fun.
“The big thing for me is always: How do you create fans of the sport?” Linden told Runner’s World. “We have a huge audience of people who participate in the activity of running. How do we connect with them and make them interested in the sport of running? That’s always number one on my list.”
Her new job, she said, is “really broad and that’s kind of great, because it will be shaped as we go.”
Linden has long endeared herself to fans with her accurate, plainspoken descriptions of life as a runner, perfect mantras for a social media era. When she finished the 2016 Olympic Marathon in seventh place (2:26:08) on a hot day in Rio, she told assembled media at the finish line, “That’s as good as I am.”
Her popularity soared to new heights after she won Boston in 2018 in a day of terrible weather, with inches of rain and gale-force winds. Her mantra that day—“keep showing up”—resonated with people who pride themselves on their effort and consistency. Later that night, she drank shots out of a Brooks shoe, inventing a new type of celebration for runners.
Linden set the 50K world record in April 2021, running 2:59:54. She will race Boston again on April 18, and she said after dealing with a hip injury last fall and trying to regain her mobility, her training has finally turned a corner. Last fall, at the postponed 2021 Boston Marathon, Linden finished 17th in 2:35:25.
Although she realizes this role at Brooks—which is a separate contract on top of her existing pro athlete contract—will raise questions about her future in the sport, Linden says she has no plans to retire anytime soon. When she stops being competitive at marathons, she wants to compete at longer distances.
“In the last month it hasn’t felt forced and I’m doing what I know how to do—I haven’t lost the magic,” she said. “Why on earth wouldn’t I stick around a little longer? The new role won’t impact that at all.”
She likened her pro running career to the life of a beloved dog.
“It’s like putting the dog down,” she joked. “It’s going to happen eventually. You don’t want to do it too early. No one wants to be suffering. It’s finding that sweet spot.”
Culley said Linden’s role with Brooks leverages her strengths. “She’s so real and she works her butt off,” Culley said. “She’s so loved inside Brooks. It’s not, ‘How do we wind Des down?’ No, it’s, ‘How do we empower her to do more? How can this person continue to be part of our brand, continue to influence running and invite more people into the run?’”