Coming into the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles, Calif., Meb Keflezighi wasn’t just the oldest runner in the field. Out of the 162 men who started, he also came into the race with the fastest qualifying time. Prior to the Trials, Meb’s most recent race was a seventh-place finish at the 2015 New York City Marathon in November.
In 2014, Meb ran 2:08:37 to win the historic Boston Marathon. With the victory, he became the only person to ever win an Olympic medal (silver ’04), the New York City Marathon (’09) and the Boston Marathon (’14).
Everyone knew that the Trials would be Meb’s last go-around for a shot at the Olympics. He had no reason to hold anything back. But days before the event, doubts rang in from the media.
Chatter from the public ranged from, “Has father time caught up with Meb Keflezighi?” to “Can Meb handle the heat?” (temperatures were in the 80s) and “Will Meb be able to hold off the young guys, who have much greater foot speed in the end?”
All were valid questions. But Meb is the most experienced U.S. marathoner, still putting out performances that many would dream of.
Before the start of the race on Saturday, February 13, the men were escorted from the race hotel to the staging area, close to the start. As nerves were high for many, Meb kept his composure, going about his usual warm-up routine.
This race was special for him. He wanted his daughters to remember him running in the Olympics. They were too young to have memory of his London 2012 Olympic run.
As the race unfolded, Meb hung with a pack of 20 to 25 men through the early stages. Donning his UCLA (alma matter) themed race kit and white hat, he wasn’t hard to miss. Meb mentioned afterwards in the press conference how he could feel the spirit in the air of both his California roots and UCLA teammates cheering along the course.
Keflezighi led much of the latter portion of the race, with 2012 Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp hot on his heels.
Just after 22 miles, Rupp threw in a surge and put a small gap in front of Keflezighi. Rupp went on to win the race, in his marathon debut, with a time of 2:11:12, 68 seconds ahead of Keflezighi (2:12:20).
Meb came down the finishing stretch. A small American flag in one hand, he fist-pumped and waved to the crowd with his other. As he crossed the finish line, he let out a huge shout of excitement and called over his wife and children to hug him. Officials draped a large American flag over his shoulders.
Coming into this race, Meb wanted to win. He was seeking to become the oldest champion of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, as well as the back-to-back winner of the event. Although he fell one place short, finishing in second place to head to his fourth Olympics is still a victory in itself.
When he runs the Olympic marathon in August in Rio at age 41, he will be the oldest Olympic marathoner ever for the United States.
Interested in more information about what exactly the Olympic Trials Marathon is all about? Please visit this page.