It has been 31 years since an American has won the Boston Marathon. This week, in the 118th running of the event, that drought ended when Eritrean-born Meb Keflezighi crossed the finish line with a time of 2:08:37, a personal record for the winner and the fastest on record for an American male.
NPR reported Monday that Keflezighi built a lead of 20 seconds at the 23rd mile but that his separation from the rest of the pack decreased before he broke the tape. At the finish line this year was a memorial for the people who died and were injured following the bombing at last year’s race.
Keflezighi left Eritrea in the 1980s with his family, who fled from violence in the country and immigrated to the U.S. He had a few words of inspiration, presumably for both himself and his supporters, after his win: “My whole run is to run strong — Boston strong. Meb strong,” he said.
The Eritrean War of Independence took place between 1961 and 1991. After World War II, Eritrea became part of Ethiopia, and the conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Eritrean seperatists persisted during the war until Eritrea won its independence.
Boston.com states further that Keflezighi beat out Wilson Chebet and Frankline Chepkwony who each finished, respectively, with times of 2:08:48 for second and 2:08:50 for third.
The American winner has proven himself a strong competitor in the Boston Marathon before, finishing in fifth place in 2010. He won the New York City Marathon in 2009 and placed second in the men’s marathon in the 2004 Summer Olympics. His crown this year picked up the accolade for Americans over three decades after Greg Meyer won the event back in 1983. He finished in 2:09:00, which is still the third fastest men’s time in the history of the race. Keflezighi bested Meyer’s time by 23 seconds.
Image courtesy of Rob Larsen via Flickr