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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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hlvme2 April 21 2014 at 1:27 PM

Why can't some folk just be happy for others? Life is tooo darn short to be a nasty, ignorant, hater, and bigot. Lets CELEBRATE THE OCCASION FOR THE JOYOUS DAY AND NO THREAT TO ANYONE EXCEPT ON HERE BY SOME IGNORAMOUS FOLK. tHANKS TO ALL THE POLICE AND BETTER VIGILANCE- KEEP UP THE FLAG!

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ae12wrangell April 21 2014 at 3:37 PM

This one particular AOL story should not have been written or posted. 75% of the comments are way beyond hateful and rascist.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
4 replies
Tom April 21 2014 at 1:42 PM

I don't thnk I could drive 26 miles in 2 hours whatever....

Flag Reply +1 rate up
goosepatry April 21 2014 at 3:35 PM

So what most of you are showing with your comments is that the only people that are truly American must be from here. Well guess what, that means that all of us EXCEPT the Native Indians need to go back to where we came from!

All of these negative comments just reiterates how uneducated you "Americans" really are. And by the way, I'm an white girl so no need to attack me in future posts about my ethnicity. Losers.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
4 replies
EzinWy April 21 2014 at 1:43 PM

'Earthling' Meb Keflezighi. One of the underlying problems around the 'global' world - even athletic competition among nations doesn't always breed / foster - peace.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
Gordon Burgett April 21 2014 at 3:34 PM

I can't believe these comments. Have any of them run a marathon? Just to finish one is exceptional, but to win, at any pace, is extraordinary! So Meb is a new American name. Didn't every racist responding have someone in their family take the boat (or plane) or do something to enter America to start a new life? Congratulations to every runner in every race, and particularly to Meb who, right now, is the best in the world. What an honor that he chose to come here!

Flag Reply +10 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
lc5401 April 21 2014 at 3:31 PM

As he said (and many people get to say) I am blessed to be an American. Even with all of our faults it is still the best country in the world to live. Just ask people from other countries. Even if some could not say it in public they sure believe it to be true.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
readingisknowing lc5401 April 22 2014 at 2:17 AM

'Gulag Archipelago' is a book you should read to see where this country is headed.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Ghetto Cat April 21 2014 at 3:27 PM

"Meb bEEP" The ROADRUNNER WINS!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Ellen April 21 2014 at 1:39 PM

Congratulation on winning Boston Marathon

Flag Reply +7 rate up
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