Meb Keflezighi crossed the Boston Marathon finish line to cheers of joy as he became the first American winner of the race since 1983.
“This is beyond running,” Keflezighi said. “It’s just for Boston, for the United States, and for the world.”
Keflezighi’s triumph came after pressure-cooker bombs killed three people and wounded 260 at the finish line of last year’s race. Spectators and even photographers stole hugs with Keflezighi, who broke down in tears during an emotional rendition of the American national anthem. His official 2:08.37 time beat his personal best by about 50 seconds. “It’s great for America on Patriots’ Day,” he said. “Last year was miserable, but this year is a glorious day.”
Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo successfully defended her title in the women’s marathon. She is the seventh three-time winner. Her time of 2:18.57 smashed the previous women’s record as the day’s intense emotions gave competitors that extra push. Even second-place Buzunesh Deba, more than 60 seconds behind Jeptoo, beat the previous women’s record of 2:20.43.
Runners will continue crossing the finish throughout the afternoon in the marathon’s second largest field. There are 35,755 confirmed entrants—19,648 men and 16,107 women—far more than the typical 27,000. Organizers invited back more than 5,000 entrants who were still on the course last year when the bombs went off.
Authorities said they sought to balance keeping the traditional feel and character of the marathon and tightening security in response to last year's deadly terror attack. Marathon director Dave McGillivray said it had been a long and difficult year. “We’re taking back our race,” he said. “We’re taking back the finish line.”
Police officers patrolled roofs and guarded barricades every 10 yards or so near the finish line on Boylston Street. The number of officers patrolling this year’s marathon doubled to more than 3,500. Roughly 140 emergency medical personnel patrolled the last 2 miles, a jump from around 110 last year.
Below ground, more than 250 personnel from law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, state and federal agencies, and the National Guard monitored the race from a coordination center set up at the Framingham headquarters of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Radios crackled throughout the sprawling facility as officials watched feeds from security cameras, television coverage and helicopters. Monitoring will continue throughout the afternoon. The bombings didn’t happen until 2:49 p.m. last year. Nearby Fenway Park is full of spectators for a morning baseball game.
Keflezighi wore the names of the four victims on his running bib. Written in marker in small, neat letters in each corner were Krystle, Lingzi, Martin and Sean. Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Martin Richard were killed in the bombings during last year’s race. Officer Sean Collier was killed days later in the hunt for the bombing suspects.