Skip to content

Meb Keflezighi stuns to win Boston Marathon (video)

Apr 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

BOSTON — Meb Keflezighi left a spectator grandstand at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon about five minutes before the first bomb went off.

“All of a sudden, I heard something,” said Keflezighi, who had withdrawn from the race 10 days before with a calf injury but went to the world’s oldest annual marathon as a fan. “I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

He heard another sound about 12 seconds later and was shoved into a Copley Plaza hotel near the Boylston Street finish line. What he heard were two bombs that killed three people and injured more than 260.

“We started crying because we knew how many people were there,” Keflezighi said.

Keflezighi cried again at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

“Tears of joy,” he said.

Keflezighi, 38 and the oldest elite runner in the field by three years, became the first U.S. man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 in a shocking upset.

Keflezighi moved his sunglasses to the top of his head and raised his arms as he crossed the finish line to win by 11 seconds over Kenyan Wilson Chebet. He cried and was draped in an American flag on Boylston Street afterward. He ran with the names of the three who died from the bombings, plus a police officer killed by the suspects days later, written on the corners of his racing bib.

“This is beyond running,” Keflezighi said just outside the finish.

“Boston Strong. Meb Strong,” he said. “I was going to give everything I had for the people.”

Jeptoo wins third Boston Marathon; emotional Flanagan seventh

Keflezighi was born in Eritrea, but his story is quintessential, polite American, from his pleased-to-meet-you smile to his colorful Skechers shoes. He came to the U.S. as a refugee from the war-torn African nation, after a brief stint in Italy, in 1987. The story is documented in his autobiography, “Run to Overcome,” a phrase that also defined the Patriots’ Day race and the last year in Boston.

“It gave me hope,” Keflezighi said of his upbringing.

Keflezighi, who won in 2:08:37, a personal record, texted Olympic teammate Ryan Hall after last year’s bombings and said they had to run Boston the next year. Hall, slowed by injuries the last two years, finished his first marathon since the 2012 Olympics in 2:17:50, 20th place.

source: AP

Meb Keflezighi became the first American to win the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon and an Olympic medal. (AP)

“The bomb happened, and every day since, I said I want to come back and win it,” Keflezighi said. “Beyond words.”

Keflezighi won the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medal and the 2009 New York City Marathon.

But he was doubted last week and for the last several months, coming into his first start in Boston since finishing fifth in 2010.

A reporter asked him in a press conference if he would retire if he crossed the finish line first in Boston. It wasn’t an absurd question, but perhaps the most startling point of it was the suggestion he could have won.

Keflezighi was a disappointing 23rd at November’s New York City Marathon and 10th at his warm-up race, the NYC Half Marathon, on March 16.

It’s been a trying few years for Keflezighi after winning New York in 2009. He was dropped by Nike in 2011, and went seven months without a shoe contract before Skechers.

“I’d be mistaken if I said I didn’t consider retiring,” he said.

He now has 11 sponsors.

He felt slighted before the 2012 Olympic marathon when he wasn’t among 10 men introduced in a front row before the race as contenders. He was the only man in the field of more than 100 with an Olympic medal already to his name.

Keflezighi finished fourth in London, a minute and a half outside of a medal. Injured last year and slow in his last two New York races, Keflezighi came to Boston with three goals, from at best winning to at worst running a personal best.

So he set out hard.

“I can’t run a personal best from behind,” he said. “I can’t win a race from behind. That’s what I kept thinking to myself.”

Keflezighi took off from the start in Hopkinton and led with Kenyan-born American Josphat Boit by 30 seconds at the halfway mark. He said he didn’t see his half marathon split (1:04:21).

Keflezighi pulled away from Boit between the 15th and 19th miles, opening up a one-minute lead. Then he struggled.

The margin dropped to about eight seconds at the 25-mile mark. But he summoned the kind of energy that’s helped him remain an elite marathoner for the last decade.

“You can’t touch the heart,” Keflezighi said. “Every day you’ve got to work hard and make it happen.”

He credited the crowd, which officials prepared to be one million strong through eight cities and towns, twice the usual amount. Go Meb, they said. You can pull it off, Meb. You’ve got this, Meb.

“I used them to propel me forward,” Keflezighi said.

He ran a personal best by 31 seconds.

Asked about his place among U.S. distance greats, he mentioned 1972 Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter, three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar and four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers.

“To have that in one person … I’m delighted to have that career,” said Keflezighi, the first American man to win an Olympic medal and both the New York City and Boston Marathons. “I always say 99.9 of my career was fulfilled. Today, 110 percent.”

Keflezighi, who won $150,000 for his victory Monday, announced before the Boston Marathon he would donate $10,000 to the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation. Martin was the 8-year-old boy who died in last year’s bombings. Keflezighi met his dad at a charity event.

Keflezighi has personal evidence of what it was like in Boston on April 15, 2013. He took photos of finishers from his grandstand seat before the bombing and posted them on YouTube.

He cherished his post-race experience this year, walking through the medical tent. He received high fives. Thanks, from Boston. Thanks, from America.

“The scene was different last year,” Keflezighi said, wearing a golden wreath atop his bald head. “As an athlete, we have dreams. Today, the dream and the reality meet.”

Tatyana McFadden continues wheelchair domination with tribute to boy killed last year

Latest Posts
  1. Yuna Kim named Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic honorary ambassador

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:37 AM EDT

    Yuna Kim Getty Images

    Figure skating champion joins MLB outfielder, ballerina.

  2. Matt Anderson taking break from volleyball due to depression

    Oct 29, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    Matt Anderson

    Anderson is the two-time reigning USA Volleyball Player of the Year.

  3. Caroline Wozniacki nervous for New York City Marathon, even in her dreams

    Oct 29, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Caroline Wozniacki Getty Images

    Tennis player flew from Singapore to Denmark to New York this week.

  4. Fire inside London Olympic Stadium (photos)

    Oct 29, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT

    Olympic Stadium

    Rising black smoke caused brief panic, but the fire was quickly put out.

  5. Shani Davis leads U.S. speed skating team for fall World Cups

    Oct 29, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT

    Shani Davis Getty Images

    One of the U.S.’ strongest skaters from last season is not on the team.

  6. Paralympic skier Josh Sundquist a foosball player for Halloween

    Oct 28, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    Josh Sundquist

    Sundquist was a partially eaten gingerbread man, a leg lamp and a flamingo in recent years.

  7. Germany will bid for 2024 Olympics

    Oct 28, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

    Germany flag Getty Images

    Either Berlin or Hamburg will be chosen in March.

  8. Boston 2024 unveils new website, promo video

    Oct 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    Boston 2024

    Those against Boston hosting an Olympics sent a letter to the USOC.

  9. Rio Olympic golf course given deadline to decide on moving 3 holes

    Oct 28, 2014, 9:03 AM EDT

    Rio Olympic golf course AP

    Judge rules in lawsuit over environmental concerns.

  10. Dilma Rousseff re-elected as Brazil president; Olympic impact

    Oct 27, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

    Dilma Rousseff Getty Images

    Rousseff could join a short list of women to declare open an Olympics in two years.

  11. Oldest Olympic relay torchbearer dies at 102

    Oct 27, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    Alexander Kaptarenko AP

    Alexander Kaptarenko carried a Sochi Olympic torch for 200 meters in December.

  12. Prosecutors to appeal Oscar Pistorius verdict, sentence

    Oct 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius Getty Images

    Pistorius was sentenced to no more than five years behind prison last week.

  13. Russian triumphs at Skate America; Gracie Gold third (video)

    Oct 26, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

    Elena Radionova Getty Images

    Russian who was too young for Sochi Olympics takes title.

  14. Ted Ligety struggles in first race of season (video)

    Oct 26, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT

    Ted Ligety Getty Images

    Olympic champion’s worst-ever result in Soelden.

  15. Japan’s Machida routs U.S. men at Skate America; ice dancers make history

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT

    Tatsuki Machida Getty Images

    Machida breaks record for winning margin; U.S. matches its longest drought.