Sunday, November 1, 2009

Meb Keflezighi Wins 2009 New York Marathon - First American Winner Since 1982

Meb Keflezighi, whose family fled war-ravaged Eritrea and came to the U.S., today became the first American man to win the New York City Marathon since 1982. Pointing to the "U.S.A." emblazoned on his shirt, Keflezighi broke the tape at 2:09:15, a full 40 seconds ahead of second-place finisher, Kenya’s Robert Cheruiyot.

Amid all the usual hand-wringing about the dismal state of American distance running, Keflezighi provided a shining bright spot, but was far from the only American who did well. In fact, the U.S. had its best showing in NYC Marathon in 30 years: Ryan Hall finished fourth, and overall six Americans finished in the top 10.

I was volunteering at the aid station at Mile 25 and was pretty exciting when I saw that Meb was the first man to pass that point. But it wasn't until later in the afternoon that I found out that he indeed had won. From what I've read, Meb ran a great strategic race, and I hope to catch it on tape delay or on the Internet soon.

Keflezighi had tears streaming down his face after he crossed the finish line. “U.S.A. gave me all the opportunity in the world, education, sports, lifestyle,” Keflezighi said in a quote on the New York Times's Web site. “This is so special to me.” Today's victory is his first in a major marathon. He finished second in New York in 2004. Also that year, he achieved a second place finish in the Olympic marathon in Athens, Greece, winning the silver medal.

Keflezighi and his 10 siblings left war-torn Eritrea, settling in San Diego in 1987. He became a U.S. citizen in 1997.

Congrats to Meb on his well-deserved victory in winning the 2009 New York City Marathon, to Ryan Hall and the other Americans who placed in the top 10, and to all finishers!

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