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American Meb Keflezighi wins Boston Marathon



BOSTON (AP) -- "The Star-Spangled Banner" played over Boylston Street in honor of an American winner of the Boston Marathon.

One year after a bombing there killed three people and left more than 260 injured, Meb Keflezighi added Boston to a resume that includes the New York City Marathon title in 2009 and a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics.

Running just two weeks before his 39th birthday, he had the names of the 2013 bombing victims on his bib.

"At the end, I just kept thinking, `Boston Strong. Boston Strong,'" he said. "I was thinking give everything you have. If you get beat, that's it."

Keflezighi completed the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to the finish on Boylston Street in Boston's Back Bay on Monday in a personal-best 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds. He held off Kenya's Wilson Chebet, who finished 11 seconds behind.

Keflezighi went out early and built a big lead. But he was looking over his shoulder several times as Chebet closed the gap over the final two miles. After realizing he wouldn't be caught, Keflezighi raised his sunglasses, began pumping his right fist and made the sign of the cross. He broke into tears after crossing the finish line, then draped himself in the American flag.

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. Meyer and Keflezighi embraced after the race.

"I'm blessed to be an American and God bless America and God Bless Boston for this special day," Keflezighi said.

Rita Jeptoo of Kenya successfully defended the women's title she said she could not enjoy a year ago. Jeptoo finished in a course-record 2 hours, 18 minutes, 57 seconds. She is a three-time Boston Marathon champion, having also won in 2006.

"I came here to support the people in Boston and show them that we are here together," she said. "I decided to support them and show them we are here together."

Jeptoo broke away from a group of five runners at the 23-mile mark. Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia finished second in 2:19:59. Countrywoman Mare Dibaba was third at 2:19:52. All three women came in under the previous course record.

American Shalane Flanagan, who went to high school in nearby Marblehead, Mass., finished seventh after leading for more than half the race. She gambled by setting the early pace, but fell back on the Newton Hills about 21 miles into the race.

"It does mean a lot to be that my city was proud of me," she said. "I'm proud of how I ran. I don't wish I was it was easier. I wish I was better."

After breaking a 27-year American drought at the New York marathon, Keflezighi contemplated retiring after the 2012 NYC Marathon. But that race was canceled because of Superstorm Sandy, and he pulled out of the Boston Marathon in April because of injury.

He was the first American to win a medal in an Olympic marathon since Frank Shorter won gold in 1972 and silver in 1976. His 2009 New York victory broke a 27-year American drought there.

Another American, Tatyana McFadden, celebrated her 25th birthday Monday by winning the women's wheelchair race for the second straight year. She was timed in in 1 hour, 35 minutes, 6 seconds.

McFadden was born in Russia and lived in an orphanage as a child before starring at the University of Illinois. She also won the 2013 NYC Marathon women's wheelchair race after taking the titles in Boston, London and Chicago last year.

Ernst van Dyk of South Africa won the men's wheelchair division for a record 10th time. The 41-year-old crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 36 seconds.

Van Dyk holds the record for most all-categories Boston Marathon wins. This was his first win at this race since 2010.

Marathon officials said 35,755 runners registered for the race, with 32,408 unofficial starters. The field included just less than 5,000 runners who did not finish last year and accepted invitations to return this year.

----

Associated Press freelance writer Ken Powtak contributed to this report.

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goodstuffcolo April 21 2014 at 1:30 PM

I'm not sure I could ride my bike that fast ! LOL

Flag Reply +8 rate up
Sharon April 21 2014 at 1:45 PM

Congratulations to him and all those who ran the race. No matter where they finished, it was a wonderful accomplishment.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
dejeteryank April 21 2014 at 6:28 PM

Congratulations to all of the runners!!

Flag Reply +9 rate up
Jackie April 21 2014 at 4:08 PM

Congratulations to all the runners in the Boston Marathon today. You are all winners in my book.
Am so happy that it was a beautiful day for it and you all deserved to win. Enjoy, after going over the finish line. You've done it !!! "Boston Strong" !!!! ;>)

Flag Reply +7 rate up
clrrd April 21 2014 at 1:48 PM

Congratulations, Meb on your first place finish!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
Emily April 21 2014 at 4:08 PM

I was really hoping that Shalane Flanagan would've at least placed first woman. However, placing seventh is a great achievement. I felt proud of her for her efforts.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
sjguu Emily April 21 2014 at 4:32 PM

Yeah, I know she really wanted the win, but she took an early gamble in setting the pace and did really well today. Brava to her and all the runners.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Diana April 21 2014 at 2:23 PM

Congratulations to the man WHO CARES what race, colour, nationality he has won with a hell of a time , why cant anyone except the time, work ,and effort, this man put in to win this , Just congratulate him for his great acheivement

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
kvave Diana April 21 2014 at 2:29 PM

Everything else spot on BUT YES NATIONALITY IS IMPORTANT SUPPORT AMERICA

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
arlenestrickland kvave April 21 2014 at 3:09 PM

Please explain what you mean when you say "nationality is important support America."

Are you saying someone who is not born here cannot possibly be "American" or become an American citizen?

Flag 0 rate up
EzinWy April 21 2014 at 5:48 PM

It's great there were no incidents. What is sad though is for 10+ years and evermore we must worry about such even here in America ...

Flag Reply +5 rate up
gsstames April 21 2014 at 5:42 PM

Of The 2 American winners, one was born in Russia adopted by American parents from an orphanage and the other immigrated to the US as a child from Eritrea. That's what it's all about.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
george April 21 2014 at 1:57 PM

about time an american won what happened to all our great runners

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
keithdelliott george April 21 2014 at 2:05 PM

What happened to your grammar and punctuation?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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