American runner Meb Keflezighi said memories of the victims
of last year's bomb attack carried him through the last,
difficult miles of this year's Boston Marathon.
The Californian shocked observers by becoming the first
American man since 1983 to win the world-renowned race, over
a field of younger East African favourites.
"This is probably the most meaningful victory for an
American, just because of what happened here last year," the
38-year-old told reporters shortly after breaking the tape.
"Those four victims, we can't get them back, and those people
that were injured by the same token, I wanted to use their
energy to win it," said Keflezighi, who ran with the names of
three bombing victims and a university police officer who
authorities say was shot dead by the bombers three days
later, written on his race number in marker.
Keflezighi covered the race's hilly 26.2 miles (42.2. km)with
a personal best time of two hours, eight minutes and 37
seconds, narrowly defeating Kenyan Wilson Chebet, 28, who
nipped at his heels during the final miles.
Keflezighi's approach to the race was risky. He broke off
from the pack early, leaving himself vulnerable to the brutal
uphills just outside Boston's city limits.
"I kept thinking Boston strong, Boston strong, Meb strong,
Meb strong," he said, referring to the city's unofficial
motto since the bombing.
Keflezighi left his native Eritrea with his family when he
was 12 years old, fleeing a war and a life of poverty and
settling in southern California.
When he arrived in the United States, he discovered running
and over the years became one of America's most accomplished
Among his biggest accomplishments, Keflezighi won the
marathon silver medal for the United States at the 2004
Olympics in Athens, and in 2009 became the first American to
win the New York Marathon in 27 years.
He withdrew from the Boston Marathon in 2013 due to an
injury, but attended the race as a spectator. He was nearby
when twin pressure cooker bombs ripped through the crowd at
the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than
"We were helpless, we just started crying," Keflezighi said
of the moments after the bombing. "I cried today too, but
this time it was tears of joy."
Keflezighi said he met with the father of 8-year-old bomb
victim Martin Richard in the days before the race.
Of his own career, Keflezighi said he can't ask for much
more. "Up till now I'd say my career was 99.9 percent
fulfilled. Today I'd say it is 110 percent fulfilled."