26 Fast (and Awesome) Facts About American Meb Keflezighi

Photo Credit: Steven Pisano

One of the most impressive long-distance runners in American history retired from running marathons after Sunday’s 2017 New York City Marathon. Meb Keflezighi – we hardly knew ye!

From his interesting name to his origin story to his prolific marathon career, there is just so much to learn about the man whose bib would simply read “Meb” – like the Madonna, Prince or Sting of the running world.

26 Fast Facts About Retired Meb Keflezighi

We thought we’d share 26 interesting facts about the retired Meb Keflezighi – one fact for each of his 26 career competitive marathons.

  1. Meb won four NCAA championships in the 5K indoor, 5K outdoor and the 10K outdoor.
  2. Keflezighi became a naturalized United States citizen in 1998, which was the same year he graduated from UCLA.
  3. This diminutive man is the only person in history to win an Olympic medal, and both the New York City Marathon and Boston Marathon.
  4. After Sunday’s race, Meb has finished in the top-10 of the men’s competition eight different times – but he has finished in the top-11 nine times!
  5. “Marathon Meb” has finished marathons under 2:10 nine different times in his career – which is more than one-third of his career marathons.
  6. In 1987, Keflezighi’s family were refugees that escaped Eritrea, which was in an 30-year war with Ethiopia.
  7. Meb was just 12 years old when he came to America (San Diego) as one of 10 children.
  8. Just 15 minutes separate his fastest marathon time (2014 Boston Marathon) and his slowest marathon time (2013 New York City Marathon).
  9. Keflezighi ‘s name is pronounced “KEFF-LEZ-GHEE.”
  10. While Meb won the silver medal in the 2004 marathon at the Athens Olympics, he might be more known now for falling at the finish line of the 2016 Rio Olympics, when he did crowd-pleasing push-ups before getting up.
  11. ESPN estimates Meb has worn 285 pairs of running shoes since he turned pro.
  12. Meb started his competitive marathon running with the 2002 New York City Marathon, and he finished his career in the very same race 15 years later.
  13. After running his first marathon (the 2002 New York City Marathon), Meb vowed he would never do it again. (He did it 25 more times.)
  14. The silver-medal winner participated in four different Olympic games.
  15. Meb goes through about 15 pairs of running shoes every year.
  16. When Meb won the New York City Marathon in 2009, he was the first American to win that race in 27 years, when Alberto Salazar won it in 1982.
  17. Before each race, Meb eats a fluffy baked bread called “Himbasha” that his mother sends special delivery to him, although a bagel works in a pinch, according to the New York Times.
  18. After seeing a car for the first time at the age of 10, Meb thought it was a death machine.
  19. Despite several major injuries, including a hip fracture, ruptured quads and a partially torn soleus, Meb has never gone under the knife for a surgery.
  20. Ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics, where Med would win a silver medal, he would run as much as 136 miles in a week.
  21. Meb started to learn English when his father, Russom, would wake up his oldest children at 4:30am, so he could read words to them out of the dictionary.
  22. Nine of Meb’s 11 siblings have earned college degrees, and four of them have gained advanced degrees.
  23. While Meb has retired from professional marathon running, he will be running in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis in early May. That has been the nation’s largest half-marathon for the past 20 years.
  24. After a disastrous 2007 U.S. Olympic marathon trials in which Meb limped to an eighth-place finish because of a pelvic stress fracture, he couldn’t join the 2008 U.S. team for the Beijing Olympics. That helped propel him to an amazing 2009 year, which is when he won the New York City Marathon.
  25. The fastest mile Meb has ever run during the New York City Marathon was in 2005, when he ran Mile 16 in just 4:22. That’s 13.7 mph for one mile!
  26. Meb’s first name is actually Mebrahtom.

Many of the facts used in this article were attributed to Wikipedia, ESPN and the New York Times.

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