San Diegan Meb Keflezighi wins Boston Marathon
Meb Keflezighi, arms held high in triumph, crossed the finish line of the 118th running of the Boston Marathon first today, becoming the first American to win the race in 31 years. This is the second time the now-38 year old has brought back a marathon win to the U.S. Meb won the New York Marathon in 2009, becoming the first American to do so in 27 years. Additionally, he won the Silver medal in the Olympic Marathon in 2004.
He had “Krystle, Lingzi, Martin and Sean”, the names of those who died in the bombing last year, written on the racing bib he wore.
Mebrahtom Keflezighi was born in Eritrea, and as a refugee, moved to the U.S. with his parents when he was 12. He grew up here in San Diego, attending Roosevelt Middle School, Memorial Junior High and San Diego High School, where he ran for the Cavers. He became a naturalized American citizen the year he graduated from UCLA, in 1998.
In today’s race, Meb overtook and passed a group of runners from Africa, and withstood a late surge from Wilson Chebet of Kenya. The crowd cheered him on with chants of “USA” at the end. He won with an official time of two hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds, beating what was described as the fastest Boston Marathon field ever. He dropped to his knees at the finish line, and was heard to say he was blessed to be an American.
In this first running of the Boston Marathon since last year’s race was disrupted by explosions at the finish line from two bombs, there was an extra spirit of resolve and determination among both the participants and spectators. 36,000 runners ran the race this year, 9,000 more than in 2013. This was partly due to the decision of the organizers to expand the allowed number of participants this year. This was so that the 5,000 who were still running last year when the race was stopped due to the bombs could compete and complete the race they couldn’t finish last year.
Among the female competitors, Rita Jeptoo, 33, from Kenya finished first again, as she had last year. She has now bested the course record for two years running, with a time of 2:18:57 this year.
In a major effort to increase the safety of everyone at the marathon, officials instituted several new rules. Backpacks were not allowed anywhere near the course, there was a ban on any face coverings on runners or spectators, containers with more than 1 liter of liquid were barred from the vicinity of the course and no bulky clothing, including vests with pockets, was permitted.
Today’s weather was perfect for the run in Boston, with temperatures in the 40s. All participants had chips in their running shoes, allowing their individual progress to be followed on the website of the Boston Athletic Association.