Twenty-six miles, one more time.
On Sunday, Meb Keflezighi will run his final professional race. Fittingly, it’s in New York City, where the 42-year-old ran his first marathon in 2002 and outran the field in 2009.
The New York City Marathon’s challenging course takes runners through all five city boroughs and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and culminates in Central Park — 26.2 miles, to be exact.
“I never wanted to run another marathon, after my first in New York,” he recalled earlier this year. “It was so brutal.”
But he grew to love the challenge: Sunday will mark his 26th marathon, and his 11th time running in New York City. In a career spanning more than two decades, the Eritrea-born Keflezighi, who became a U.S. citizen in 1998, is the only person to win the Boston Marathon, New York City Marathon and an Olympic medal (silver in 2004).
Here’s a quick tour through his career, from his years at UCLA through international victories.
3-time U.S. champion at 10,000 meters (2000, ’02, ’04)
3-time U.S. cross-country 12K champion (2001, ’02 and ’09)
4-time NCAA champion
4 U.S. Olympic Teams: Sydney 2000 (12th); Athens 2004 (silver – first medal by an American man in 28 years); London 2012 (fourth); and Rio 2016, where he placed 33rd after stomach problems forced him to stop racing seven times – but he made up for it by doing a couple pushups before crossing the finish line.
6-time U.S. 15K champ (2001, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’06, ’07)
11 New York City Marathons, including this year’s, with a win in 2009 — the first U.S. runner to win the event in 27 years
This only scratches the surface. Other accomplishments: 2014 USA Half Marathon Champion; 2011 Olympic trials champion; 2000, 2004 Olympic trials 10,000-meter champion … the list goes on. In 2014, USA Track & Field selected his Boston victory — which he dedicated to victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing — as the Inspirational Performance of the Year. Later that evening, he took home USA Track & Field’s highest accolade, the Jesse Owens Award for outstanding athlete of the year.
130: The amount Meb typically runs each week while training for marathons
120,000: The number Meb estimates he’s run in his career
36: Age winning the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Marathon, making him the oldest to do so
38: Age winning the Boston Marathon in 2014, the oldest man to triumph in 83 years and the first U.S. winner since 1983
41: Age at the Rio Games, the oldest marathoner in Olympic history
Meb is most famous as a marathoner. But he also set a U.S. record for the 10,000-meter in 2001 (27:13.98) that stood until 2010.
2:08:37: Winning time at the 2014 Boston Marathon, a personal best equating to 4:54 per mile
2:11:29: Silver-medal time at the 2004 Athens Games, a season’s best
While he will no longer compete, Sunday does not mark the end of Keflezighi’s involvement in the sport. He plans to stay active, through his MEB Foundation dedicated to the importance of “maintaining excellent balance” in life, and other means.
“People have supported me over the years, now it’s time for me to give back,” he said. “Whether it’s pacing people, whether it’s doing clinics, seminars, camps. There are a lot of ideas I want to do.”