Meb Keflezighi was the first man to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon today, finishing at an unofficial 2:08:37 as the crowd along Boylston Street chanted “USA! USA!” It marked the first time an American man got the top slot in the Boston Marathon since 1983, when Greg Meyer of Massachusetts won. (An American woman last won in 1985, when Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach of Michigan came out on top.) After crossing the finish line today Keflezighi “looked up to the sky, then kissed the ground three times. He took a bow, then emotion won out as he put his hands over his face and broke into tears,” reports USA Today. Keflezighi, of San Diego, wrapped himself in the American flag when he accepted the trophy, notes the Boston Herald.
Keflezighi, who finished second in the men’s marathon at the 2004 Olympics, got the fastest time ever for an American and a personal record for the 38-year-old who was born in Eritrea and arrived in the United States when he was 12. It was a close finish for Keflezighi as Wilson Chebet of Kenya came 11 seconds behind at 2:08:48, followed by Frankline Chepkwony, also of Kenya, at 2:08:50, reports the Boston Globe. Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo won the women’s race for the second year in a row with a record time of 2:18:57.
Around 35,755 runners athletes from 96 countries signed up to run the 118th Boston Marathon in the first race since last year’s bombing that killed three people and injured 264, reports Reuters. One million spectators gathered on Monday to cheer on the runners amid an unprecedented level of security. The Associated Press reports Keflezighi wore the names of four victims on his running bib: Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard, who were killed in the bombing, and MIT Officer Sean Collier, who was killed during the manhunt for the suspects.