Meb Keflezighi ends US drought, becoming first American winner for 29 years, as Rita Jeptoo moves to fifth on world all-time list
Meb Keflezighi claimed an emotional Boston Marathon victory on Monday, becoming the first American male to win the title since Greg Meyer in 1983.
Clocking a 2:08:37 personal best, Keflezighi delighted the huge crowds at the Boylston Street finish line, crowds that had gathered to celebrate being ‘Boston Strong’ following the bomb attacks of 2013 that left three people dead and more than 260 injured.
Following his victory, Keflezighi, who avoided the bombs by just five minutes at the finish last year, said: “I was a little fearful near the end but I wanted to run strong. Boston strong. Meb strong.”
Also returning to Boston in 2014 was Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo who successfully defended her women’s title in a course record 2:18:57, becoming the first woman to run sub-2:20 for the course as runner-up Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia also dipped under the mark with 2:19:59.
Ahead of the races getting underway many had asked whether we could expect an American winner and Shalane Flanagan certainly stated her intention from the start in the women’s race.
The local favourite, who finished fourth in her Boston debut last year, led the elite women through half-way at course record pace, clocking 69:27, but the three-time Olympian couldn’t hold on to her lead.
Proving her strength, Jeptoo surged ahead at around the 32km mark, as she was joined by Deba, Mare Dibaba, Meselech Melkamu and Jemima Sumgong. Jeptoo’s winning time boosts her to fifth on the world all-time list, as she was followed home by Deba, Deba’s compatriot Dibaba (2:20:35) and Kenya’s Sumgong (2:20:41). With 2:22:02 Flanagan placed eighth, her time the quickest ever by a US woman on the Boston course.
Also having taken an early lead, Keflezighi seemed to have to work a little harder for his victory, as runner-up Wilson Chebet of Kenya remained with him in the closing stages.
Keflezighi had fellow American Josphat Boit for company earlier on, but Boit couldn’t handle the pace and fell back at around the 25km mark. Although Chebet made his presence felt, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist, who turns 39 in two weeks, held on to cross the line 11 seconds clear, Chebet clocking 2:08:48 ahead of his countryman Franklin Chepkwony with 2:08:50.
Joining Keflezighi in claiming victory on home soil was Tatyana McFadden who secured her second successive Boston Marathon women’s wheelchair title, having won the London title just a week before.
Clocking 1:35:06, she finished more than two minutes clear of runner-up Wakako Tsuchida.
In the men’s event South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk claimed a record tenth title, clocking 1:20:36 having led from start to finish. Japan’s Kota Hokinoue claimed the runner-up spot with 1:21:14.
With a total of 35,755 entries – 19,648 men and 16,107 women – this year’s event featured the second largest-ever field in the race’s history. Only the centennial race in 1996 has included more runners, with 38,708 entrants, before the race was capped at 27,000 in 2013.
Gebremeskel and Huddle victorious over 5km
Two days before the marathon and Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel had set a course record of 13:26 to retain his B.A.A. 5K title, as Molly Huddle equalled the women’s course record of 15:12 for victory on home soil.
American Ben True was given an identical time to that of the winner, the two-time champ at this event missing out to the Olympic 5000m silver medallist in a photo finish.
Last year’s B.A.A. 10K champion Stephen Sambu of Kenya was third with 13:27, while Britain’s Nick McCormick – fresh from victories at the Brighton 10K, Trafford 10K and Armagh 5km road race – clocked 13:45 for eighth.
His time, which is a 13 second improvement on his previous road best for the distance, will provide a welcome boost for the Morpeth Harrier who struggled with injury in 2013 as he looks to his big early season goal – a 5000m in Stanford where he hopes to impress English selectors ahead of this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
In the women’s race, American 5000m record-holder Huddle beat 2013 B.A.A. 10K champion Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia to victory, Daska clocking 15:14 for second ahead of compatriot Sentayehu Ejigu with 15:16.
Emelia Gorecka impressed with a time of 15:40 for ninth and first Brit, a huge road personal best that is just six seconds off her 5000m track PB.
“Absolutely loved Boston, definitely will be running on the road again… But for now its track time,” Gorecka later tweeted.
Behind her, recent Carlsbad 5000 winner Julia Bleasdale clocked 16:00 for 12th, Helen Clitheroe ran 16:01 for 13th and Sonia Samuels 16:15 for 17th.
In the Invitational Mile races both Nick Willis of New Zealand and Morgan Uceny of the USA successfully defended their titles, clocking 4:11.3 and 4:44.0 respectively. In the men’s race Britain’s Chris O’Hare clocked 4:13.6 for fourth behind Ireland’s Paul Robinson with 4:12.0 and American Leo Manzano with 4:13.3.