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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.

Join the discussion

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jjaycedar April 21 2014 at 9:46 PM

It is a good thing.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
cmirk684 April 21 2014 at 2:00 PM

I could not agree more with jacks papa. My grandparents were immigrants and they were as American as they come!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Albert April 21 2014 at 2:00 PM

Great running by Meb. Solid time. However, "The scorching time he finished with" is 5 more than five minutes off Geoffrey Mutai's 2011 time of 2:03:02. Mutai's effort happens to be the fastest marathon ever run.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
martintraveler April 21 2014 at 2:02 PM

Congratulations to this young man.......who is an American citizen.....just like other immagrants who came to this country like my grand parents.....!!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
octfd April 21 2014 at 2:02 PM

We're all very proud of him, as he should be of himself, GOOD JOB MEB !
And God bless America!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
blejeff April 21 2014 at 7:03 PM

he's legit American, immigrated in 1987, went to ucla, I'll certainly claim him, congrats on a wonderful achievement!

Keflezighi became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1998, the same year in which he graduated from UCLA. While at UCLA Keflezighi received numerous All-American awards and other accolades. He won four NCAA championships (outdoor and indoor) during the 1996-97 season, including the cross-country title, the 10,000 m outdoors and the 5000 m indoors and outdoors titles in track.[6]

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mrsdak April 21 2014 at 7:03 PM

Congratulations to Mr. Keflezighi!
To those who question his nationality, remember we are a nation of immigrants. Mr. Keflezighi stated that he was proud to be an American, and God Bless America. He has the right stuff.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
1 reply
platanis2008 mrsdak April 21 2014 at 8:12 PM

There can be no "nation of immigrants".This contradicts the very meaning of the word.Find another word, make a new one-but, respect the meaning of the words...

Flag Reply 0 rate up
wave11161 April 21 2014 at 2:05 PM

YEAH MEB FROM SAN DIEGO!! I SAW YOUR SKECHERS COMMERCIAL LAST NIGHT!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Kathy April 21 2014 at 7:02 PM

He is too an American! He was born elsewhere (so were a lot of us) and adopted by an American family. He has been a citizen for a good while, though I don't know exactly how long. You people need to check your facts before exposing your ignorance!

Flag Reply +6 rate up
lorraine.usa April 21 2014 at 6:42 PM

GO USA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
mjovarn lorraine.usa April 21 2014 at 7:04 PM

Wh,y because we spend money importing athletes from other countries so we can look good?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
omacees12 mjovarn April 21 2014 at 7:44 PM

reply to MJOVARN its call envy hate and jealousy when you cant stand to see others with anything the way they took the RUSSIAN scienctists after the fall of the berlin wall and take out the young strong black men out of africa and use them as slave and leave the weakling to perish !!! you wakeup in the morning to see that the bread winner is gone its sad till it look bad

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