August 12, 2012

2012 Olympics - Mens Marathon

Good morning in London for a marathon, and what a marathon viewers received. Though the pace wasn't blistering, the tactics and attacks throughout made for a very interesting race, especially when Kiprotich of Uganda took off and left the Kenyans behind. The first three positions weren't even that close.

But the real story for me was in 4th place. After the American runners with faster "paper PRs" pulled out of the race, Meb Keflezighi was keeping things respectable at 37 years old. And then, something started happening in the last 5 miles; Meb moved from the mid-teens in positioning and kept on overtaking runners. Here was the old man of the marathon, using his determination and running his race, slowly picking off the best runners in the world. When the dust settled, Marathon Meb rolled in with a 4th place finish, an amazing accomplishment and a great time for an American.

"When the gun goes off, it’s all about what’s in your heart."  - Meb   

What I loved most was in the final stretch he wasn't bummed about finishing just off the podium. Rather he was looking for an American flag, and after he found one to grab he proudly waved it through the finish line. Rather than showing a bitter face like we've seen from so many non-medal athletes in London, Meb was celebrating like he won. That's pure joy (and a little maturity and perspective as well - teenage gymnasts take note). His interviews were mostly positive as well; he's a fantastic ambassador for America.

His family and father should be proud, raising 11 kids (incl lawyer, doctor, MBA) and being as proud of their country as any born here.

Sad that Meb is so often overlooked in the events he runs. Sure, he will never be the fastest American, and his PR is usually 5+ minutes off the fastest guy on paper, but he shows up when it counts. For all the articles written about "faster" runners, Meb has the hardware to show his cunning and determination; won NYC, won Trials, and medaled in the Olympics. And though no one expected him to medal today, his fourth place was a triumph all the same. His story will be overshadowed by the millionaires playing basketball today, and that's too bad, but Meb will still be smiling.

Long may you run, Meb!

“Everybody works hard to accomplish such a thing and I am very proud of myself
and our country to finish fourth. It’s not where you want to be sometimes, but
fourth place at my last Olympics – I’ll take it anytime.” - Meb