For the First Time in Nearly 30 Years an American Won the Boston Marathon

Meb Keflezighi’s win at the Boston Marathon is first American victory since Lisa Widenbach’s in 1985

Supporters gather at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday to commemorate the victims of last year's bombings. Kevin R Morris/Corbis

The Boston Marathon, one of the largest and most prestigious races in the world, kicked off this morning with more than 36,000 runners hitting the pavement in waves. Two hours, eight minutes and thirty-seven seconds later, Meb Keflezighi became the first American to win the Boston Marathon in nearly 30 years.

Keflezighi's victory ends what has previously been a back-and-forth battle (barring few exceptions) between runners from Kenya and Etiopia for the top spot in both the men's and women's races. The last American man to win the race was Greg Meyer in 1983, and the Lisa Larsen Widenbach took the women's top spot in 1985.

In its earliest days, Americans almost universally swept the Boston Marathon, rivaled only by Canadian runners. But the podium began to diversity after World War II. In the late 1970s, American athlete Bill Rodgers made his mark, however, sweeping three marathons in a row (and winning four total). 

From its official start in 1972 (and from 1966 on, when a few snuck or lied their way onto their course), Americans dominated the women's marathon, too. As with the men's marathon, that dominance gave way to a burst of international diversity, before Kenyan and Ethiopian runners settled into a steady stream of wins.

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