A Year From Tragedy, Boston Marathon Laurels Go To American
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An American man has won the Boston Marathon for the first time since 1983. Meb Keflezighi ran the 26.2-mile course in just over two hours and eight minutes. After last year's tragic bombing at the finish line killed three people and injured many more, some spectators said an American winning this year was all the sweeter. NPR's Jeff Brady reports from Boston.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: As Meb Keflezighi came around the turn on to Boylston Street near the end of the marathon, the already-cheering crowd made even more noise. And when he approached the finish line, the cheers became almost deafening.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
BRADY: Keflezighi had his first name, Meb, on his runner's bib along with his number. Spectators along the route encouraged him on. At a post-race press conference, he said the feel of this race was different than previous marathons.
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: The energy was just phenomenal. And to have that name, my name on the front is kind of cool because they just kept going, you could pull it off, Meb. Go on, Meb. Go on, Meb. You got this, Meb.
BRADY: Thirty-eight-year-old Keflezighi was born in Eritrea, and he's a U.S. citizen. This is third Boston Marathon, though he wasn't able to compete last year because of an injury. He was a spectator, though, and says last year, he cried for the victims. This year, he cried again as he crossed the finish line but he says this time, they were tears of joy.
Kenyan Rita Jeptoo finished first in the women's division with a record time of just under two hours and 19 minutes. This is her third win in Boston, including last year. Jeptoo said racing in Boston this year was important to her.
RITA JEPTOO: I decided to come here in Boston to run again to support people in here in Boston and to show people here in Boston we are together.
BRADY: The crowd around the finish line grew so large at one point that police shut the area off and directed people to a nearby street. Among those in the crowd was Bill White.
BILL WHITE: We were hurt last year, both - all three, my son, my wife and myself. I lost my right leg.
BRADY: White is walking now with the help of a prosthetic leg and cane.
WHITE: It's been a great experience. It sounds funny to say that but the people I've met I probably never would have met before. And the encouragement they gave me to keep working and keep working on it has been the big reason I'm here today.
BRADY: Also among the spectators near the finish line today, third grade teacher Nadine James. She was very excited when Meb Keflezighi won.
NADINE JAMES: Oh, I thought it was awesome. We're from the Holmes Elementary in Dorchester. So it's the kids' first chance to come and see, and they all thought it was awesome. Really good seeing an American runner win today.
BRADY: Karma Tousignant of Lunenburg, Massachusetts ran last year and says the memories made focusing on the race today a challenge.
KARMA TOUSIGNANT: I was like a blubbery mess. Like, I kept, like, taking a deep breath and feeling like I was going to cry. I'm like, what is wrong with me?
BRADY: But to Tousignant says it was nice to race this year and, after last year's tragedy, to try and make the Boston Marathon feel right again. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Boston.