Newly minted VP of Running for Competitor Group, Inc. – Meb Keflezighi brings American pride, and a win to the 2014 Boston Marathon. But who is this vibrant and accomplished champion? One thing is for certain – he is more than your average long-distance runner.
In mid-1980’s Eritrea, a young man running at a high rate of speed may have indicated the need to flee from a potential wartime threat. After all, 2014 Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi’s first real memory of life as a child in Eritrea involved helping a boy who had become seriously injured after playing with a live bomb. Flash forward 25 years, and the parallels between this event and the April 15th, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing seem quite paradoxical. Whatever the motivation – and beyond the months of training and preparation, the image of Meb crossing the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon as the champion is an iconic image that will stay with the running community, the city of Boston and the world at large, for years to come. Meb carried the names of the victims of the previous year’s bombings with him during the 2014 race – maybe this was the extra motivation that he needed to become the first American citizen to win the race in over 30 years.
Meb Keflezighi has built a career out of long-distance running. He started under a sponsorship with Nike that was eventually replaced by his current partnership with renowned active footwear company Sketchers. High profile endorsement deals, bits on late night TV shows like the Late Show with David Letterman, and an intense Twitter and Facebook following, highlight the incredible impact that Meb has made on the running world – and beyond. Meb Keflezighi has led an interesting life – equally full of trials and championships, brimming with the type of stories that can certainly parlay into an amazing career as a motivational speaker, and quite accessible to the average person, runner or not.
Here are some of interesting facts about Meb Keflezighi, his history and present life:
- Meb is one of 11 siblings – many of whom had to literally hide in the bushes during their childhood to avoid being drafted as “child soldiers” against the nation of Ethiopia.
- Meb’s first job here in the US was at a McDonald’s restaurant.
- Meb is a UCLA graduate. From humble beginnings in war-torn Eritrea, Meb earned a degree in 1998 and was considered a top member of the UCLA running team.
- “Marathon Meb” is his nickname, which is fitting considering the number of marathons he’s completed (and placed in).
- Meb trains while running behind a bicycle that is being ridden at 12-13 miles per hour. This is the same pace he needs to maintain to post a 2 hour, 10 minute marathon time – a championship level pace for most races.
- Meb is the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 – and the oldest individual to win the race since 1931! He was 38 years old when he crossed the finish line during the 2014 race.
- Meb and his family currently live in San Diego, but used to train in Mammoth Lakes, CA. The 7,000 feet altitude there helped Meb train harder and deliver greater performance potential when racing near sea level.
- Meb is sponsored by Sketchers and is a member of the New York Athletic Club.
- His biggest running fear? Animal attacks! Friends call Meb a “dog magnet,” due to the number of run-ins he’s had. He was attacked by a German Shepherd last year – and his heart rate monitor recorded a jump from 110 bpm to 180 bpm during the attack!
- Favorite post-run snack – chocolate Power Bars. Meb claims he salivates for them during his cool down.
- Meb’s favorite post-run meal is an omelet with turkey and avocado – anything with a serious dose of protein.
- Meb trains for a minimum of seven hours per day – and claims that running is the easy part!
- Meb’s major career wins include: 2014 Boston Marathon champion, 2009 ING NYC Marathon 1st place, 2009 USATF 7 mile, Half Marathon, and Marathon Champion, 2005 ING NYC Marathon 3rd place, 2004 Olympic Marathon Silver Medalist, 2004 ING NYC Marathon Runner-Up
Meb Keflezighi is more than a champion runner. He is an involved father of three, husband to wife Yordanos, brand ambassador, point of pride for the city of Boston, executive, and advocate for children’s health initiatives. When asked if he is too old for running, Meb said “A lot of people had written me off two weeks shy of my 39th birthday—some people thought I was too old—but there’s always exceptions. But for me, I had my own purpose, my own motivation.” For many of us, finding the right motivation makes the difference between sticking to a running program and simply giving up. Take a cue from Marathon Meb – find the motivation and purpose, and stick to it.