Tuesday, April 22, 2014

B Strong

Meb.  The mere 3-letter name says it all.

Pure American.  Runner-extraordinaire.

He won Boston, watching an insurmountable end of the race 90-second lead be reduced to a mere six seconds in the last mile.  As a world-class elite Kenyan runner valiantly tried to haul him down on Boyleston Street he hung on and won, repeating to himself, "Boston strong, Boston strong, Meb strong, Meb strong."

You see, tragedy visited this great race, the Boston Marathon, the oldest continuously run marathon in the world, last year when two immigrant men planted bombs upon its course and killed and maimed people as was their sole intention.  Men who had come here as boys, benefited from all the advantages our great country has to offer, and found hatred inside of themselves instead of reaching for greatness as Meb did.

You see, Meb came here as a boy too, as a war refuge, ran track in high school and then at UCLA where he won national championships, became an American citizen and continued on to greatness as an American marathoner.  His name goes up there with other great American male marathoners such as Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers.

It's no secret that Africans are the best marathoners in the world currently, with Kenyans especially standing out.  No American had won a major world marathon in decades (London, Berlin, Chicago, New York and Boston); a Kenyan usually was standing atop the podium.

Until Meb astonishingly broke through in 2009 and won New York.  The Africans let him get far out front and then couldn't bring him down at the end.  (My former running buddy A met Meb the night he won New York.)

Meb outran all his pursuers at New York, they were asking each other what his strengths and weaknesses were and nobody in the chase pack knew, so lightly did Africans regard Americans.  He was strong, Meb strong.

His time has never approached 2:05, which is a time which the elite Africans regularly reach and once, an American (Ryan Hall).  He PRed yesterday at 2:08 (at age 38), his prior best was a 2:09 when he won New York a half-decade earlier.

He is a consummate professional, unfailingly polite and gracious, and a master tactician.  He won a silver medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and came in fourth at the London Olympics two years ago.

I personally thought that was his swan song, at age 36 he had won an Olympic medal, an American major and he outdistanced a world class field at London save for the tight lead pack of 3 medaling African elites.

I came in from a noontime run yesterday and immediately googled "Boston Marathon 2014 winner."  When the name Meb immediately popped up I was astonished and proud.  (I have met Meb twice at DC races.)

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