San Diegan Meb Keflezighi Wins Boston Marathon
In the men's field of the 118th Boston Marathon, American Meb Keflezighi of San Diego ended a 31-year drought for U.S. runners, after holding off Wilson Chebet of Kenya in a race that came down to the final mile.
According to race officials, Keflezighi, 38, ran a 4:56 split at mile 23, when he built a 20-second lead. That lead dwindled as the runners neared the finish line, but Keflezighi held off all challengers to win the race with an unofficial finishing time of 2:08:37.
The crowd roared as the Eritrean-born runner who lives in San Diego crossed the finish line, celebrating a much-needed victory in the historic race.
Update at 12:25 p.m. ET: Emotions At The Finish Line
It was an emotional scene as the crowd and the runner realized that, yes, this was actually happening: a U.S. man was winning the Boston Marathon. Keflezighi, a former New York City Marathon champion and Olympic medalist, broke the tape near the site of a makeshift memorial to the four people who died because of last year's attack on the race.
Holding his trophy as the U.S. national anthem played, Keflezighi's face was contorted with emotion, tears streaming down his face.
"We are resilient; we never gave up," he said after the race. "My whole run is to run strong — Boston strong, Meb strong."
Keflezighi also said that he was aware he was being chased neared the finish line.
"If somebody beat me," Keflezighi recalls thinking, "I'm going to inspire others to do it."
Instead, the man whose family immigrated to the U.S. after fleeing violence in Eritrea in the 1980s has inspired others by winning the race outright.
Keflezighi, who graduated from San Diego High School in 1994, wore the names of four victims from last year's bombing incident on his running bib. Written in marker in small, neat letters in each corner were Krystle, Lingzi, Martin and Sean.
Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard were killed in the bombings during the 2013 race. MIT Officer Sean Collier was killed days later in the hunt for the bombing suspects.
No U.S. runner had won the race since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach took the women's title in 1985; the last American man to win was Greg Meyer in 1983.
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The women's field was won by Rita Jeptoo of Kenya, who set a course record with a time of 2:18:57 as she successfully defended her title as the Boston champion. American Shalane Flanagan, a Massachusetts native, finished sixth in the race, posting a personal best with her time of 2:22:01.
For the second year in a row, Tatyana McFadden of the U.S. has won the women's wheelchair race.