BOSTON (CBS) –The 2017 Boston Marathon will be the final time Meb Keflezighi makes his way from Hopkinton to Boston.
The man known simply as “Meb” will hang up his running shoes later this year, with the New York City Marathon his 26th and final competitive marathon. While he may have never won a Super Bowl or World Series in this sports-craved town, he has a special place in Boston lore.
“To win in 2014, that was very special,” Keflezighi told WBZ-TV.
Keflezighi was the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years, and that in itself would have guaranteed him a special place in the history of this iconic marathon. But his victory – coming the year after the 2013 bombings — transcended the sport.
It reclaimed the race for the runners, and the city.
“What happened in 2013, to be there physically, the year of the bombing, and to come back, wanting to win for the people… When the Red Sox won and put the trophy on the finish line, I want to do that on Patriots Day for the runners,” he said.
Keflezighi ran that day wearing the names of Martin Richards, Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell and Sean Collier written on his bib. He had already won an Olympic medal and the New York City Marathon, but capturing Boston that day surpassed everything else for him.
“To come triumphant that moment on Boylston Street; to chant ‘USA USA!’ coming down that … To try to put it into words,” he said. “That’s the magnificent point of my career and the climax of it.”
The 41-year-old probably won’t break the tape on Boylston Street this year, but it will be a chance for Boston to say thank you one more time. He gets choked up just thinking about that his final Boston Marathon, which is now just 11 days away.
“To be able to run one more time the Boston Marathon, it’s going to be exhilarating, but at the same time, very touching and emotional,” he said.
Though he’s stepping away from competitive running, Keflezighi says we may still see him hit the pavement for the occasional 5K or half marathon — for fun.
Just know you’re always welcome in Boston, Meb.