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The 118th Boston Marathon was held on April 21, 2014. Started in 1897 this is the world’s oldest annual marathon held the third Monday of April on Patriot’s Day. It is also one of the 6 World Marathon Majors (joining Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City).
Entrants must qualify using a set of gender and age specific standards or run for charity. Every running of the Boston Marathon is a historic event. This year had even deeper significance because it was one year after the horrific bombings that took place on Boyleston Street near the finish line in 2013 where 3 people were killed and 264 wounded (not to mention all the emotional scars left behind).
A year later it’s still hard to grasp that something like that would happen at an event like this—one that holds so much pride for the community, the running world and the many charities it supports. If you read running magazines, blogs or follow various running outlets on Facebook you’ve probably read some of the amazing stories of loss and triumph.
Boston Strong 2014!
Trevor and I watched the live elite coverage and it was very exciting. Since I really don’t follow any sports teams this is better than watching the Super Bowl or NBA Finals.
The handcycle athletes were the first to start and they set a strong pace. The 1st place male wheel chair finisher was Ernst Vandyke, 41, of South Africa who finished in 1:20:36 and who had just competed in London. The 1st place woman was Tatyana McFadden, 25, of the US who gave herself a great birthday gift by finishing in 1:35.
The Elite Women
The elite women started at 9:32 am and went out aggressively with Shalayne Flannigan (a MA native who grew up near Boston) setting the pace for many miles. She got dropped from the lead pack around mile 19 but still finished strong. The women’s podium included: First place- Rita Jeptoo (33) of Kenya (the defending champ and 3 time winner) in 2:18:57 setting a course record. Second Place- Buzenesh Deba of Ethoipia (who lives in NYC) in 2:19:59. Third Place- Mare Dibaba from Ethiopia in 2:20:35.
Top American Shalayne Flannigan was 7th with a new PR and women’s Boston American record time of 2:22:02. Desi Davilla Linden was the second American female (10th overall) in 2:23:54. Joan Samuelson, the 1979 and 1983 champion who is 56 years old, ran 2:52:11 setting a new age group record. Unfortunately the coverage of the elite women’s race was a little spotty due to camera malfunctions.
The Elite Men
The elite men and wave one started at 10:00 am. At the start of the men’s race there was a non-elite runner (called an interloper by the announcers) leading for a mile. The race announcers said “someone’s going to hand him a piano pretty soon.” And it was true, he started fading immediately.
Mebratom Keflezighi pulled away from the men around mile 10 and maintained a lead through the rest of the race. As the nearest competitors closed in he ran the 25th mile at a sub 5:00 minute pace. Keflezighi said he fought off a stomach ailment around the 20th mile and then “prayed a lot” to make it to the finish line ahead of the fast-closing Kenyans. He finished in 2:08:37 with a new PR, was the 1st American to win since Greg Meyer in 1983 and the oldest winner since 1930.
Meb has an amazing story—truly the American dream. He was born in Etretia, one of 10 kids and arrived here with his family in 1987 not speaking English. Meb went on to graduate from UCLA, win a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in the marathon, and win the 2009 NYC Marathon. He has a wife and 3 daughters and turns 39 years old next month.
Wilson Chebet of Kenya finished second in 2:08:48 and Frankline Chepkwonny of Kenya came in third at 2:08:50.
The second man American to finish was Nick Arciniaga -the reigning USA Marathon champion. He completed the course in seventh place in 2:11:47. The Americans worked together to hold the lead pack back and give Meb some room. Last year’s winner Lelisa Desisa dropped out around mile 22.
This is what Meb said about his race,
“I can’t run a personal best from behind. I can’t win a race from behind. Goal No. 1 was to win this race. Goal No. 2 was to be on the podium. Goal No. 3 was to run a personal best. I could have been conservative and stayed back and run 2:10 or 2:11, but I’m a competitor. This is probably the most meaningful victory ever for me.”
Meb said he recently read four-time Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers’ book Marathon Man and had visualized the course every day for the last year.
“I was comfortable up front, it was a blessing from God to be able to go” he said about his solo front running. “I prayed a lot and kept thinking, ‘Boston Strong, Boston Strong, Boston Strong. Give everything you have.’”
I’ve been told that the atmosphere this year was different than previous years. Spectators were at a record high with nearly 1 million in attendance. Among the 32,408 starters there were 80 countries represented. It takes 10,000 volunteers to put on a race of this magnitude and the marathon brings in an estimated $175 million dollars to the community. This year there was the highest ever percentage of women finishers (45%), 90% of runners finished the race before the cut-off time at 6:15pm and 99% finished eventually. The total number of finishers was 31,805 and the average finishing time was 4:02:30.
Our thanks to Kristi Benz, Kirk Buckley, and Angela Coulombe for sharing their Boston Marathon stories with us!
Boston strong cow bell [photo credit] https://www.flickr.com/photos/cc_chapman/with/13979071153
Boston elite women [photo credit] https://www.flickr.com/photos/paul-w-locke/
Meb Keflezighi [photo credit] https://www.flickr.com/photos/paul-w-locke/
Boston elite men [photo credit] https://www.flickr.com/photos/drjohn01702/
1. https://www.youtube.com/embed/Rv8-4CNpYPI interview w/ Meb- UCAN promo
2. http://projects.dearworld.me/boston-marathon pictures of survivors