By now, we all know that Sunday marks the final competitive marathon of Meb Keflezighi’s career. It’s one that includes an Olympic silver medal from 2004 in Athens, a 2009 New York City Marathon victory and the 2014 Boston Marathon – just one year after the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.
There have been many tributes for Keflezighi circulating on the web throughout the week. Sports Illustrated‘s Tim Layden wrote the best one. Erin Strout of Runner’s World also had a very nice tribute.
We checked in with some of our writers to share some of their favorite and personal memories of Meb:
One of my favorite running memories of all-time was from the 2015 Dallas Marathon, when I got to be on a two-person relay with Meb. Though very clearly in a different league than me, Meb was so encouraging and authentic—exactly the way you hope your heroes are in real life. Beyond his character, I admire Meb so much for his staying power. His career has spanned generations and has been remarkably consistent. A year ago, when he was announcing his final two marathons (2017 Boston and 2017 New York), he posted the picture below of his marathon history.
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As you all know a marathon = 26.2 miles. But you all also know that there is a lot more than numbers and distance represented here. It's about sacrifice, dedication, perseverance, resilience and commitment to fulfill this 26.2 mile journey. Well, my goal is to race it 26 times. So far 24 down and 2 BIG ONES to go to fulfill my Marathon goals. It doesn't even include the many thousands of miles of training (including some 26.2 miles or longer for rehearsal). I hope you have enjoyed my thrill and excitement in trying to get to the finish line quickly. Some days were better than others. However, no matter how painful breaking through physical and mental barriers got, I did get to the finish line each time except for one. #RunToWin #2more #RunToOvercome
I saved it as a reminder that a career is not built on a few races, but on the whole lot. I hope he knows how much his career and those iconic performances—Athens in 2004, London in 2012, Boston in 2014 and so many more—have meant to aspiring runners like me. I wish him a joyful and memorable end to his competitive career in New York this weekend.
When Rock ‘N’ Roll sent their PR team to Raleigh in January 2015, they sent Meb to stand in at the press conference and say a few nice things about our city. After Meb ate all but one slice of a pizza (OK, flatbread), at lunch, he did some interviews and then came on a group run that evening at Runologie, our local running store.
My Meb memory does not come from a race but from a random encounter at a physical therapist’s office. I was recovering from a hamstring strain and went in for my weekly treatment session in Dr. Gino Cinco’s office in San Diego. Little did I know Dr. Cinco’s next appointment was none other than Meb, who was getting some work done after winning a half-marathon tune-up just a few weeks before racing the 2012 London Olympics.
In typical Meb fashion, he talked less about himself and wanted to know when I had planned after graduating college. When I told him I was moving to Sacramento to work at the state Capitol, his began talking excitedly about his respect for then-Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Johnson, a former NBA star, made the successful move from sports to politics, prompting Meb to speculate whether he could ever become mayor of his hometown of San Diego.
Having seen generous spirit, level-headed demeanor and his passion for helping others, I just have one message for Meb – one that resonates whether he’s running his final marathon in New York City or contemplating a future political career: Run, Meb, run.
To this day, I think one of the best events that I’ve ever covered was the 2014 Boston Marathon. This seems like a very easy pick for best memory but I actually wasn’t out on the course on the day that Meb won. I was primarily in the press room but in the days leading up to the race, I had conducted enough interviews and spoken to enough locals to understand the magnitude of that year’s race. Whoever won wasn’t important but the fact that everyone was running and many with full hearts, was the reason to celebrate the day. From the press room, I watched Meb break away from the leaders and thought, ‘OK, when are they going to catch him?’ That was the feeling from most people in that room. If you recall, he had a dismal showing at the 2013 New York City Marathon that had everyone questioning whether he should’ve retired. You always hear the phrase, ‘There’s no cheering in the press box’ when it comes to reporters at sporting events. I was only 20 years old at the time and so the lesson was fresh from my classes but I noticed a majority of the other reporters were getting excited for Meb. They root for the best story and Meb winning was the ultimate story so the room burst out in a round of applause when he broke the tape. I still get goosebumps thinking about that room, especially when I go back every April.
I’ve been to a Spurs game with Keflezighi, I’ve run part of a 10K with him (he was pacing at 7:30/mile) and I had the chance to write a profile on the relationship between him and his brother in 2015 for ESPN. Nothing sticks out to me more than that April afternoon.
If you haven’t already watched Chris Heuisler’s Thank You Meb video, please do so and then tweet out your favorite #TYMeb moment.