American Meb Keflezighi wins Boston Marathon

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American Meb Keflezighi wins Boston Marathon
BOSTON - APRIL 21: Meb Keflezighi, of the United States, crosses the finish line to win first place in the men's race of the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, 2014. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Meb Keflezighi, of San Diego, Calif., breaks the tape to win the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
BOSTON - APRIL 21: Meb Keflezighi, of the United States, holds up an American flag at the finish line and wears his crown and medal during his victory ceremony after finishing first place in the men's race of the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, 2014. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)(metro)
Rita Jeptoo, of Kenya, bereaks the tape to win the women's division of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Runners make their way to load onto busses ahead of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Runners make their way to load onto busses ahead of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Trent Morrow of Sydney, Australia, also know as “Marathon Man” laughs as Andrea Olivo of Venezuela tugs on his cape as she has her photo made ahead of Monday's 118th Boston Marathon, Sunday, April 20, 2014, in Boston. Morrow says Monday's marathon will be his 200th run since Jan. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Tears collect on Ron McCracken's of Dallas cheek as he pays his respects at a makeshift memorial honoring to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings ahead of Monday's 118th Boston Marathon, Sunday, April 20, 2014, in Boston. McCracken's race last year was cut short due to bombings and Monday's race will mark his 14th year running in the Boston Marathon. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A visitor hangs a message on a tree at the "Dear Boston" exhibit at the Boston Public Library, Sunday, April 20, 2014, in Boston. The exhibit features a collection of items from the marathon bombing memorial. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Runners cue to board busses ahead of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Nancy Antos, of Boulder, Colo., displays her bib to run in Monday's 118th Boston Marathon after picking it up Saturday, April 19, 2014, in Boston. Antos was six blocks from the finish line in last year's race, but did not finish when race officials stopped all runners after two bombs exploded near the finish line. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Actor Kevin Spacey applauds Boston Marathon bombing hero Carlos Arredondo at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Tribute Run in Boston, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
High school runners limber up before the Invitational Mile race Saturday, April 19, 2014, in advance of Monday's 118th Boston Marathon in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Doug Julian carries his partner, fellow survivor Lynn Crisci, toward the finish line during the Boston Marathon Tribute Run in Boston, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Chrissie Blevins, of Powhatan, Va., displays her bib to run in Monday's 118th Boston Marathon as she picks it up Saturday, April 19, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Survivors Erika Brannock, left, and Rebekah Gregory DiMartino, embrace in their wheelchairs as they head to the finish line of the Boston Marathon Tribute Run in Boston, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elite women runners leave the start line of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Police officers give a rundown of the scene at Wellesley College to a State Police Special Response team before the start of the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Wellesley, Mass. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
The 118th Boston Marathon gets underway as the mobility impaired runners leave the start line behind Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Race officials wire the electronics for the start line before the 118th Boston Marathon begins Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Mobility-impaired runners gather at the start line for a moment of silence before the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Hopkinton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Meb Keflezighi of the United States, center, runs with eventual winner Geoffrey Mutai, left, of Kenya along 4th Ave. in the Brooklyn borough of New York during the New York City Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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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.

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Associated Press freelance writer Ken Powtak contributed to this report.

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