BOSTON Less than four months ago, Meb Keflezighi made history at the Boston Marathon.
When the 39-year-old broke the tape on Boylston Street that April afternoon, he was the first American to win the men’s open race since Greg Meyer did it 1983.
Keflezighi is back in Massachusetts this weekend to run the Falmouth Road Race — his first race since Boston.
‘Boston Has Given Me The Spotlight’
Keflezighi’s journey to the Boston Marathon finish line last April was much longer than 26.2 miles.
His path to victory started in the middle of a civil war in Eritrea, where he was born. Keflezighi credits his father with the family’s eventual escape to the United States, where they settled in San Diego, flourished and became citizens.
“I came with three goals in mind: To win, to podium and to run a personal best. And I feel very proud to have done all three of them.”
Keflezighi went to UCLA, where he continued to work hard as an NCAA champion. He finished second in the 2004 Olympic Marathon in Athens — the first U.S. runner to medal in that event since 1976.
Later, he won the 2009 New York Marathon, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, and just missed another medal at the summer games in London, finishing fourth.
The guy knows how to race, especially when the stage is big.
But at a press conference before the 2014 Boston Marathon, Keflezighi sat alone at his table. Most reporters were hovering around his running friend Ryan Hall. For Keflezighi, that’s not a problem — he says he’s used to exceeding expectations, and he felt similarly standing at the Hopkinton starting line on April 21.
“I expected to win, but everybody else expected to win, so you can’t play defense,” he said. “But I was ready to go. I was healthy. That’s my main thing. I came with three goals in mind — to win, to podium, and to run a personal best. And I feel very proud to have done all three of them.”
Since his Boston win, Keflezighi has been in great demand. Everyone wants to run with Meb — and thousands will get to do that this weekend on Cape Cod in the 42nd annual Falmouth Road Race. A hamstring injury is nagging Keflezighi, but he’ll be at the race to compete and soak up the cheers of his many fans.
“Just happy to be here,” he said. “Winning Boston has brought me a lot of limelight. People want to be in a run with me … Definitely Boston has given me the spotlight.”
He’s not quite ready to step out from under that spotlight. He’ll try to win the New York Marathon in the fall, and he hopes to return to Boston next April. Then there’s the Olympics in 2016.
But at age 39, he acknowledges that this year’s historic Boston Marathon win was the frosting on his cake, and four months later it still tastes pretty darn good.