Meb Keflezighi, former Mammoth Track Club member and one of Mammoth's founding distance runners, along with Deena Kastor, won the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21. Photo/Getty Images
UPDATED: Meb Keflezighi, formerly a member of the Mammoth Track Club and a fixture in Mammoth distance running, won the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21.
Now living in San Diego but still training in Mammoth—he was spotted around town just last week—Keflezighi became the first American man to win in Boston since 1983.
His winning time was 2:08:37—a personal best.
President Obama called Keflezighi on Tuesday to congratulate him.
"I have received many congratulatory calls, but I just received THE call from President @barackobama," tweeted Keflezighi.
Keflezighi ran, so to speak, the morning national network news shows, as well.
In winning, Keflezighi out-kicked Wilson Chebet of Kenya, who finished second in 2:08:48. Frankline Chepwony, also of Kenya, was third in 2:08:50.
At 38, the deeply religious Keflezighi became the oldest male victor since "Smiling Jimmy" Henigan of nearby Medford, Mass., in 1931.
“This is probably the most meaningful victory for an American because of what happened last year,” he said from the grandstand following the race, referring to the finsih-line boming that killed three spectators.
“I’m almost 39. I just ran a personal best. I just won the Boston Marathon. I feel blessed.”
In a post-race press conference, widely disseminated online, Keflezighi was expansive and generous.
Asked about his place among U.S. distance greats, he mentioned 1972 Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter, three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar and four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers.
“To have that in one person … I’m delighted to have that career,” said Keflezighi, the first American man to win an Olympic medal and both the New York City and Boston Marathons. “I always say 99.9 of my career was fulfilled. Today, 110 percent.”
Keflezighi ran a strong race from the start. By the 8-mile mark, Keflezighi and Josphat Boit, also of the Mammoth Track Club, had an eight-second gap on the pack.
Boit finished 11th, and had the fourth-best time (2:12:52) among the American men.
Boit, in fact, was the leader after 10 miles, but coming out of Wellesley Hills, Keflezighi was all alone.
By the firehouse turn heading into the Newton hills, his lead had grown to 14 seconds.
With three miles to go Keflezighi was up by 40 seconds but was grimacing visibly as Chebet was closing. But he found a final burst coming into Kenmore Square and clinched the laurel wreath with a dash down Boylston Street.
Keflezighi, who made Mammoth his home for 13 years, looked over his shoulder several times over the final mile.
After realizing he wouldn't be caught, he raised his sunglasses, began pumping his right fist and made the sign of the cross.
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.
Keflezighi's victory added to his string of astonishing world-class performances.
In 2009, Keflezighi became the first American to win the New York Marathon in 27 years. In 2004, he won a silver medal at the Athens Olympics—the same year Deena Kastor, also of Mammoth, won a bronze medal in the marathon.
This one might have been the most emotional, however.
Keflezighi wore the names of four victims from the Boston bombings and manhunt on his running bib.
Written in marker in each corner were Krystle, Lingzi, Martin and Sean.
Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard were killed in the bombings during last year's race.
Sean Collier was the MIT police office killed during the manhunt.
EDITOR'S NOTE: More coverage of Keflezighi's Boston Marathon victory will appear in the Mammoth Times print edition on Thursday, April 24.