It has been 40 years since an American won the women's race in the New York City Marathon. Olympic medalist Shalane Flanagan made history when she broke the finish line tape on Sunday.

The 36-year-old was fast enough to beat three-time defending champion Mary Keitany from Kenya. Flanagan's unofficial time was 2 hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds; she beat Keitany by a minute and one second.

Flanagan's race records

Flanagan has become the first American to win the women's title since Miki Gorman in 1977. Setting records and making history is what Flanagan has been doing from the past.

As a college student at the University of North Carolina, she won the national cross country titles in 2002 and 2003 becoming the first individual cross country champion in Tar Heel history. She holds the American records time for the 3000-meter and 5000-meter indoor races. At the 2008 Olympics, Flanagan took bronze in the 10000-meter race. This made her the second American Woman to receive an Olympic medal in the race.

Early this year, Flanagan's medal was upgraded to silver following Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse being sanctioned and disqualified for two years by the IAAF for a positive doping case.

Flanagan and the NYC Marathon

Flanagan made her first foray into the Nyc Marathon in 2010 where she finished second in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 40 seconds.

It was the best finish made by an American woman in 20 years.

In Sunday's race, security was tight after the terror attack that killed eight people on a popular bike path in Manhattan last week. Flanagan proved untouchable even for Keitany who had won this race three times consecutively. Nine runners jockeyed with Keitany for the lead.

Among them were Ethiopia's Mamitu Daska, Kenya's Betty Saina and Italy's Sara Dossena making their New York debut.

According to Inc, Flanagan had suffered a stress fracture in her back that had kept her from training for ten weeks. However, that did not bring her down.

After running 21 miles, the lead pack included Keitany, Daska, and Flanagan.

The pace picked up with the three constantly trading positions until Flanagan began to break away down 5th Avenue. She entered Engineer's Gate into Central Park and kept a good distance from the two. To keep up, Keitany began to drift towards the east side of 5th Avenue then back to the customary route, but it was too late.

Flanagan was unbeatable as she crossed the finish line in tears before holding the American flag high. Keitany finished second with a time of 2hours, 27 minutes and 54 seconds. Daska came in third with a time of 2 hours, 28 minutes and 08 seconds.

According to WABC, Flanagan said the moment was indescribable. She wept again on the podium when her name was announced.