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5 Things You Didn’t Know: Boston Marathon 2013 American Elite Runners

April 4, 2013 1:57 PM

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Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan of the United States at the finish line after competing during the Women's Marathon on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at The Mall on August 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan of the United States at the finish line after competing during the Women’s Marathon on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at The Mall on August 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

With no clear favorite entering the 2013 Boston Marathon, the nine American runners in the elite field all stand some chance of winning. And while you may have heard some of the names, here are five things you didn’t know about the Americans in the Boston Marathon elite field.
US's Mebrahtom Keflezighi celebrates after finishing fourth in the athletics event men's marathon during the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 12, 2012 in London.  (Photo credit ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages)

US’s Mebrahtom Keflezighi celebrates after finishing fourth in the athletics event men’s marathon during the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 12, 2012 in London. (Photo credit ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages)

1. First in 30 Years?

Meb Keflezigh was the first American in 27 years to win the New York City Marathon. He was also the first American in 28 years to win an Olympic medal in the Men’s Marathon event. At 37 years old, he calls winning the Boston Marathon the one career goal he has yet to accomplish. If he pulls it off, he’ll be the first American man to accomplish that feat in 30 years.

Editor’s Note: It was announced on April 5, 2013 that Meb Keflezigh was dropping out of this year’s Boston Marathon due to injury.

At 36 years-old, 2013 will be his Boston Marathon debut. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

At 36 years-old, 2013 will be his Boston Marathon debut. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

2. The Black Cactus

Four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman didn’t start running competitively until he was a freshman at Tucson, Arizona’s Pima Community College in 1996. A Wall Street Journal profile of Abdirahman says he showed up for his first practice in jeans and boots – and still almost won a five-mile race. Abdi calls himself “The Black Cactus,” a nickname his coach at the University of Arizona gave him.

Editor’s Note: It was announced on April 10, 2013 that Abdi Abdirahman was dropping out of this year’s Boston Marathon due to illness.

Shalane Flanagan poses with the America flag after winning the U.S. Marathon Olympic Trials Women's Division in 2:25:38 on January 14, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Shalane Flanagan poses with the America flag after winning the U.S. Marathon Olympic Trials Women’s Division in 2:25:38 on January 14, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

3.The Local Favorite

Expect Shalane Flanagan to be the local favorite. She grew up in Marblehead and attended Marblehead schools. Flanagan discovered her love for running late in her grade school career when she had to run a mile as part of a physical fitness test in gym class. “I beat all the boys in my school and I thought ‘I kind of like this; I like beating boys,’” she said. “That’s really where that spark was lit, in grade school.” For Marblehead High, she finished first in an All-State mile race, and set a record for the two-mile race at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships.

Elite Boston Marathon runner Serena Burla

Elite Boston Marathon runner Serena Burla


4. The Cancer Survivor

In January 2010, Serena Burla learned she was diagnosed with cancer in her right leg. In what has been described as a radical procedure, the doctor removed one of the muscles in her right hamstring the following month. There were questions about whether she’d ever be able to run again. Twenty-two months after her surgery, in November 2011, she finished 19th overall in the New York City marathon.

(Photo from @stephRothsteinBruce/Twitter)

(Photo from @stephRothsteinBruce/Twitter)

5. The Honeymoon Run

Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce married fellow runner Ben Bruce on October 26, 2012. And like many couples, they headed to Hawaii for their honeymoon. The difference with these two was that they decided to run a half-marathon. Both won their respective divisions.

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