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Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.

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Boston Victor Affirmed As Among The Greatest American Marathoners

Just moments after USA’s Meb Keflezighi roared across the Boylston street finish line as the victor of the 118th B.A.A. Marathon, he was embraced by Greg Meyer – the 1983 champion and the last American man to win the Patriots’ Day race. That poignant moment was the first – but not the last – special accolade extended to America’s first Boston Marathon champion in 31 years.

What was the post-race experience like for the winner? “It was overwhelming. Everybody was overwhelmed – not just Meb and me,” admits Merhawi Keflezighi, the younger brother, agent, and lawyer for the new Boston champion. “I give him credit because he did such a good job of staying in the moment. He ran a marathon and then he endured a marathon even afterwards in terms of all of the requests, autographs, pictures, a lot of standing around, interviews. And he just handled all of that as if he hadn’t just run 2 hours and 8 minutes. It was just amazing. He just kept plugging along. I really think he had this runner’s high, this extra energy – almost like a second wind – where he was fresh.”

But the race day hoopla was just the beginning. “We were contacted by a lot of different morning shows,” notes Hawi as he explains how the whirlwind of attention continued throughout the week. “The day after, President Obama called Meb to congratulate him on his historic victory. And Meb was very appreciative that the President would take time out of his busy schedule to call him from Air Force One.” By then the celebratory bad wagon was in full swing. “Wednesday after the race was probably the craziest day because we flew out to New York that morning and Meb was on LIVE with Kelly and Michael and did a few hours of other media – radio, TV, and internet publications,” states Hawi. “And that afternoon, we flew back to Boston to get there in time to go to Fenway to throw out the first pitch at the Red Sox / Yankees game.”

As the accolades kept pouring in, the frenzied activity began to take on an other-worldly aura for the two brothers who have never forgotten their more humble beginnings in Eritrea. “This whole celebration tour lasted awhile – several weeks. I remember we were in San Antonio. We had just had dinner and we had car service pick us up to take us to another recognition during a San Antonio Spurs playoff game,” explains Hawi. “And Meb said, ‘Who would have imagined? We just were honored by the mayor of San Antonio. And now they are picking us up with car service to go to the Spurs playoff game. Who would have imagined? Based upon where we were born and how we were brought up, who would have thought of this?’ We had experienced this kind of fascination beforehand,” explains Hawi. “But it was that moment when Meb first vocalized this.” The celebration even went bi-coastal as the new champion was honored at a L.A. Clippers playoff game, threw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game, and was later presented the John Wooden-inspired crystal “Pyramid Of Success’ at a UCLA gathering.

In light of Meb’s unexpected victory on Patriots’ Day, suddenly everyone wants to know his remaining 2014 racing plans. “The reason that Meb has been focused on the New York City Marathon in 2009 and on the Boston Marathon this year is because he thought he could win those races,” explains Hawi offering some clues on his brother’s possible marathon plans over the next 12 months. “And he thinks it is critical to win those races again.” The Keflezighi brothers are also eyeing some shorter road races in the coming summer months. “We’re looking to do some of the big summer road races: the Bix 7, Falmouth Road Race, Beach To Beacon, Peachtree Road Race,” reveals Hawi. “Those are all under consideration and are races Meb has done in the past. And he feels like they help him work on his speed in training and tuning up for the big marathon.” Looking further out, Meb has ambitious goals. “Meb is running at his personal best level,” acknowledges Hawi in noting that his brother is still a peak performer. “So his next big goal is to try to make the 2016 Olympic team at the age of 41.”

The brothers are realists about the challenges facing aging world class marathoners. “For Meb, he realizes that staying healthy is the key. And if he is not healthy, then he’s not capable. You can have great training for 75 percent of the training period, but one little injury and all of sudden you can’t participate in the big race,” Hawi offers candidly. “ Meb knows it’s a thin line. He knows as he gets older, he has to not push himself as much so he can to make sure he can get to the start line.” The agent/lawyer cites his brother’s Boston performance as the smart way to get an older, experienced marathoner to perform at his best. “If you look at Boston, it is amazing that he ran 2:08 and it is amazing that he dominated the race, but it is not the fittest he has ever been. He was fit and healthy and he aspired to run well.” And with a smile, he adds, “And he ran smart.”

With his Boston crown pairing up nicely with his 2009 USA marathon championship and NYC Marathon win, his 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials Championship victory, and his two Olympic marathon appearances including his silver medal performance in 2004, Meb Keflezighi has solidified his rightful place in the pantheon of great American distance runners. When the discussion turns to the greatest American marathoners of all time, Meb’s accomplishments mandate that his name be included in the same conversation with names of Shorter, Rodgers, DeMar, Salazar, and perhaps a few others. 

Athletes, coaches, fans, and others close to the sport will be able recall many different racing highlights when looking back on the career of Meb Keflezighi. But the memories of Meb’s triumphant victory in the 118th B.A.A. Marathon may be the one they cherish the most. How would Meb wish to be remembered? The 2014 Boston Marathon champion is quite candid: “I’d like to be remembered as a person who worked hard and smart to get the most out of my God-given talents and opportunities.” Meb Keflezighi will get his wish. 


 

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