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Jeptoo defends, Meb stuns Boston

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FLANAGAN-BOSTONBOSTON, April 21- Rita Jeptoo defended her Boston Marathon championship by blazing over the Boylston Street finish line in a course record to capture her third overall title.

There was to be no Kenyan double after veteran Meb Keflezighi, 38, became the first American man to win Boston since Greg Meyerin 1983.

Keflezighi finished in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 37 seconds with Kenyan duo, Wilson Chebet (2:08:48) and Franklin Chepkwony (2:08:50) trailing each other close for second and third.

Jeptoo won the race in 2:18:56, seven minutes, 29 seconds ahead of her winning time from a year ago. Besides last year, the 33-year-old also won the race in 2006.

Jeptoo broke away from the pack after the 22nd mile and then proceeded to blow the group away. At mile 24, she ran an unbelievable 4:48 split.

Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba finished second in a blistering 2:19:59.

American Shalane Flanagan thrilled the massive crowds by leading for most of the race.

The Marblehead native was in the lead up to the 30K mark, but then slowly faded from the lead pack that included Ethiopians Mare Dibaba, Meselech Malkamu, Buzunesh Deba, and Kenyan Jemima Jelegat Sumgong.

An American woman has not won the race since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach did it in 1985.

In one of the most memorable victories in Boston Marathon history, Keflezighi became the first American man since 1983 to wear the laurel wreath.

With the backdrop of so much tragedy, in front of many of those gravely wounded in last year’s attacks, Keflezighi raised his arms in victory as he crossed the finish line at 2:08:37.

He looked up to the sky, then kissed the ground three times. He took a bow, then emotion won out as he put his hands over his face and broke into tears.

Keflezighi’s win was entirely unexpected. Turning 39 next month, his best days seemed to be in his past, especially given the Kenyan stronghold on the race.

Since 1991, a runner from Kenya has won the men’s race 19 times.

Keflezighi was cheered by massive crowds from Hopkinton to Boylston Street wearing a red and white top and blue shorts. He’s the first American man to win in Boston since Greg A. Meyer in 2:09:00 in 1983.

Keflezighi was born in the African nation of Eritrea but immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 12 and lives in San Diego with his wife and three daughters.

Keflezighi didn’t race last year but was in the stands, leaving only about five minutes before the bombs went off. Today Keflezighi, a three-time Olympian, returned to the same spot and gave the city a reason to cheer.

The 2004 Olympic silver medalist won his last major marathon at the Olympic trials in 2012. He also won the New York marathon in 2009.

Keflezighi broke away from Josphat Boit, an American runner who was born in Kenya, midway through the race. By mile 17, Keflezighi had a minute lead over the pack that included defending champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia.

LEADING RESULTS
MEN

1 19 Keflezighi, Meb 2:08:37 USA
2 7 Chebet, Wilson 2:08:48 KEN
3 11 Chepkwony, Frankline 2:08:50 KEN
4 23 Shafar, Vitaliy 2:09:37 UKR
5 5 Geneti, Markos 2:09:50 ETH
6 16 Kimurer, Joel 2:11:03 KEN
7 22 Arciniaga, Nicholas 2:11:47 USA
8 24 Eggleston, Jeffrey 2:11:57 USA
9 15 Lonyangata, Paul 2:12:34 KEN
10 14 Annani, Adil 2:12:43 MAR

WOMEN
1 F1 Jeptoo, Rita 2:18:57 KEN
2 F10 Deba, Buzunesh 2:19:59 ETH
3 F2 Dibaba, Mare 2:20:35 ETH
4 F3 Jemima Jelagat 2:20:41 KEN
5 F25 Melkamu, Meselech 2:21:28 ETH
6 F12 Duliba, Aleksandra 2:21:29 BLR
7 F17 Flanagan, Shalane 2:22:02 USA
8 F6 Cherop, Sharon 2:23:00 KEN
9 F15 Ongori, Philes 2:23:22 KEN
10 F8 Linden, Desiree 2:23:54 USA

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