There are few sporting events more steeped in tradition than the Boston Marathon. So after last year’s tragedy, you knew the event would come back bigger and stronger than ever. ‘Boston Strong’, was their slogan, and looking back, this should have been their slogan for years. The Boston Marathon has always represented strength and adversity as well as overcoming obstacles and pushing yourself to new limits. From the start line out in Hopkinton, to the rolling hills of Newton and the finishing stretch on Bolyston Street, its hard to argue with the perseverance shown by everyone involved in this race, none more so than winner Meb Keflezighi.
For the last five years of his career, Meb has been nothing short of an inspiration for underdogs everywhere. In fact, he has spent more of his career being told he was washed up than he has been praised for his incredible accomplishments. After a disappointing US Olympic Trials Marathon in 2008, it appeared that age was starting to show itself for Mebt. So when he entered the 2009 running of the New York City Marathon, very few people predicted he had a chance to win against such a strong field. Not only did he win at the age of 34, but he also set a then personal best of 2:09:15 on what is considered a very difficult course not suited for fast times. On top of this, he became the first American to win the race since 1982, providing a beautiful story for the sporting world.
However, even after such an amazing performance, people still doubted him and his abilities. In fact, Nike dropped their sponsorship with him in 2011 and Meb trained as an unsponsored athlete for much of the year. After another surprising win at the US Olympic Trials Marathon, Meb was selected to race for the USA at the 2012 Olympics. Even more so than in any of his previous races, he was not viewed as a legitimate threat, especially in such a stacked field. However, Meb once again turned in an incredible performance and slowly picked off runners one by one, to the point that he ended up in 4th place, ahead of many other faster runners.
The 2014 Boston Marathon, was without question one of the fastest fields ever assembled for any major marathon. Judging by personal bests, Meb was the 13th fastest person in the race. In fact, it had 9 entrants who ran under 2:07, an incredible pace. Once again, nobody gave Meb much of a chance against this year's stacked field. When he pulled away in the first half of the race, the East Africans clearly didn’t think this soon to be 39 year old’s legs were much of a threat and let him go, figuring they would reel him in later on. Meb capitalized on this to build a 90 second lead, which forced the pack to catch him. Although a few runners made a charge near the end, it was the final 2km push that sealed the race for him. It was these final few kilometers that Meb began to really grimace in pain and look noticeably exhausted. However, the courage and strength he found to push through, proved inspirational for nearly everyone watching. Finishing at 2:08:36-- his personal best, Meb made headlines, becoming the first American to win Boston is over three decades.