BOSTON: Meb Keflezighi became the first American male athlete since Greg Meyer in 1983 to win the Boston Marathon yesterday while Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo won her second women’s title in a row and third overall.
A race day that began with remembrances for those killed and injured in last year’s bombings near the finish line saw 38-year-old Keflezighi, who was born in Eritrea and became an American citizen in 1998, make history.
Keflezighi’s time of two hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds was 11 seconds faster than runner-up Wilson Chebet of Kenya with the latter’s compatriot Franklin Chepkwony third in 2:08:50. Keflezighi, whose other wins include the 2009 New York Marathon and 2012 US Olympic trials, set a personal best with the second-fastest US men’s time ever at Boston. His best prior Boston finish had been third in 2006. It marked the first time since 1991 that the men’s winner was not from Kenya or Ethiopia.
Jeptoo, who also won in 2006 and last year, set a women’s course record of 2:18:57 to defeat Ethiopia’s Bizunesh Deba by 62 seconds with Ethiopian Mare Dibaba third in 2:20:35.
Jeptoo, 33, shattered the prior Boston women’s record of 2:20:43 set by Kenya’s Margaret Okayo in 2002. The only woman to have won more often at Boston than Jeptoo, who won at Chicago last year as well, is Kenyan Catherine Ndereba with four titles. Six other women have taken three as well.
Deba was last year’s New York Marathon runner-up while Dibaba won the Xiamen Marathon earlier this year in China for her first title at the distance.
Jeptoo’s training partner, compatriot Jemima Sumgong, was second at Chicago last year and second in Boston in 2012 by only two seconds, but settled for fourth this year in 2:20:41.
South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk won his 10th Boston Marathon men’s wheelchair crown in 1:20:36 while American Tatiana McFadden took her second consecutive women’s wheelchair title.
A moment of silence was observed before the start by a field of 35,755 from 95 nations for the victims of two bombs hidden inside backpacks that exploded near the finish line last year, killing three people and injuring more than 250 others.
Keflezighi took charge at mile eight and although joined for a while by countryman Josphat Boit, he was out on his own by the 18 mile mark.
Chebet, a three-time Amsterdam winner and former Rotterdam champion who was fifth in 2012 in his only prior Boston start, closed late but could not overhaul the American over the final stretch.
Ethiopia’s Markos Geneti, the Dubai Marathon runner-up in January, was fifth in 2:09:50, 13 seconds behind fourth-place finisher Vitaliy Shafar of Ukraine.
US runner Shalane Flanagan took the lead at the women’s start with a first mile in 5:11. Flanagan and Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Deba set the early pace but at 20 miles, Deba grabbed the lead alone as the pack was reduced to five, Flanagan falling back and Kenyan Caroline Kilel dropping out. REUTERS