Meb Keflezighi, Deeply Religious Christian, Becomes First American in 30 Years to Win Boston Marathon

Meb Keflezighi of the U.S. reacts as he comes to the finish line at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Mass., on April 21, 2014.

Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi, the first man among more than 35,000 runners competing in Monday’s Boston Marathon to cross the finish line, was also being celebrated because he is the first American to claim the top spot in more than 30 years.

The Olympic medalist, who believes God called him to run, completed the 26.2-mile race ahead of other male competitors in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 37 seconds.

Keflezighi achieved a similar victory in 2009 when he became the first American in 27 years to win the New York City Marathon, his first marathon victory.

“Keflezighi looked over his shoulder several times over the final mile. After realizing he wouldn’t be caught, he raised his sunglasses, began pumping his right fist and made the sign of the cross,” reports CBS News of his victory in Boston. The publication reports that Keflezighi was the first U.S. victor since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach, who won the women’s title in 1985. The last American man to win the Boston Marathon was Greg Meyer in 1983.

The race Monday came a year after a devastating terrorist attack killed three people and wounded more than 260 others, competitors and spectators alike at the 2013 race. Keflezighi, who finished behind women’s champ Rita Jeptoo of Kenya, reportedly wore the names of the Boston Marathon bombing victims on his bib.

Keflezighi, who has in his Twitter bio the Bible passage Philippians 4:13 (“I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me!”), escaped war-torn Eritrea with his family in 1987 and emigrated to San Diego, which is where he first became interested in running. He became an American citizen while in high school.

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