Meb Keflezighi, 2014 Marathon Champion, Runs Boston For One Final Time

BOSTON (CBS) — Meb Keflezighi, the American elite runner who won the Boston Marathon one year after the tragic bombings killed three spectators, crossed the finish line on Boylston Street for the final time Monday.

Keflezighi, who finished 13th in the 2017 race with a time of 02:17:00, is stepping away from competitive running.

After he crossed the finish line, Keflezighi ran over to kiss the members of the Richard family, who lost their 8-year-old son Martin in the bombings.

meb denise richards kiss globe Meb Keflezighi, 2014 Marathon Champion, Runs Boston For One Final Time

American runner Meb Keflezighi kisses the hand of Denise Richard as other members of the Richard family, from left, Jane, Henry and Bill, reach out to applaud him after he crossed the finish line of the 121st Boston Marathon in Boston on Apr. 17, 2017. This will be his last competitive Boston Marathon. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“I became good friends with Bill Richard and his wife, daughter and son,” he said. “I just told them to be strong, and that I think about them often. I was a spector just like them in 2013 … I have an 8-year-old daughter, so the first time I saw Martin on the news … it was personal.”

He said the cheering fans got him through the race this year.

“My body was hurting pretty bad,” he added. “But at the same time, the crowd gets you through it … They were chanting ‘USA, USA!’ and ‘Go Meb!’ and ‘You’re our hero,’ and ‘Boston Strong, Meb Strong!'”

Watch: Meb Keflezighi Crosses Finish Line

Keflezighi will run one more New York marathon before retiring, but said Boston will always be special to him.

“Thank you Boston, the City of Boston and John Hancock and the BAA for giving me opportunities,” he said. “To win in 2014 was special, the most meaningful of my career.”

Watch: Meb Signs Off After Final Boston Marathon

When he won in 2014, Meb was wearing the names of Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, and Sean Collier written on his bib.

“He was a beautiful little kid, way ahead of his time, with a great smile, and he was a great runner,” Keflezighi said of little Martin.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mike Macklin reports

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