Meb Keflezighi earns his fourth Olympic berth at age 40
Photo: After Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983, he went to celebrate with the Eritrean community in Boston.
By Don Doxsie
Just when you think Meb Keflezighi is finished doing big things as a distance runner, he does something like this.
Keflezighi, who has been an icon for the Quad-City Times Bix 7 for more than a decade, added one more line to his legendary resume on Saturday by finishing second in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials and qualifying for the Olympics for the fourth time.
Galen Rupp, running his first marathon, won the race in the hottest conditions ever for the event. The official temperature was 66 degrees at the start — the previous record was 61 degrees in 1960 — and rose to 75 by the end of the race.
Keflezighi will be 41 by the time the Olympics are held in Rio de Janeiro this summer, making him the oldest American runner ever to compete in the Olympic marathon.
“It’s an honor to represent the United States,’’ he said. “Making my fourth Olympic team, I couldn’t have done it without my family. I was cramping a bit early in the race but felt better a little after halfway.”
Keflezighi, who was born in Eritrea but came to the U.S. at the age of 12, first ran the Bix 7 in 2002 and won the race that year and again in 2009. He has become a regular in the Davenport event and one of its biggest supporters. Bix 7 race director Ed Froehlich and assistant race director Dan Breidinger were in Los Angeles to cheer him on to victory.
Keflezighi first ran in the Olympics in 2000, finishing 12th in the 10,000. He was the silver medalist in the marathon in 2004 and was fourth in the marathon in 2012. He became the first American in 31 years to win the Boston Marathon in 2014 but has said several times in recent years that he was likely to retire.
He decided to take one more shot to allow his children to have the experience of seeing their father run in the Olympics. He carried an American flag and pumped his fist to the crowd as he ran the final stretch, then was embraced by his wife Jordana and three daughters after crossing the finish line.
He ran with Rupp for much of the way Saturday before the 29-year-old Oregon native pulled away to win easily in two hours, 11 minutes, 10 seconds.
“Running with him, hopefully we gave the crowd some excitement,’’ Keflezighi said. “He gave a great effort and was great at the end.’’
Rupp won a silver medal in the 10,000 meters in the 2012 Olympics and may attempt to run both events in Rio. The Olympic 10,000 is scheduled for Aug. 13 with the marathon following on Aug. 21.
“I think the double in Rio is certainly possible," Rupp said.
"The first step was obviously to qualify for this. I didn't want to get ahead of myself. Everything up until this was all about the marathon."
Jared Ward finished third in the men’s competition to grab the final U.S. Olympic berth.
Amy Cragg pulled away late to win the women's division in 2:28:27 with Desiree Linden and Shalane Flanagan getting the other two spots.
"Four years ago, it was pretty heartbreaking finishing fourth," Cragg said. "I worked really, really hard for four years to move up one position (and make the team)."
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