Meb Keflezighi

How Meb won the Marathon

A closer look at the strategy behind Meb Keflezighi’s historic victory at the 2014 Boston Marathon – in his own words – with some footnotes along the way.

Mile 1


Miles 1-4 Miles 1-4

The start

Right from the outset of the race, Meb ran in the lead, or close to it.

  • Meb had only the 14th-fastest personal best among the elite men who started the 2014 Boston Marathon.
  • In the first mile, the Boston Marathon course drops 121 feet in elevation.
  • Meb’s full first name is Mebrahtom, which means “let there be light.”
Stylianos Kyriakides Statue

Mile 5


Miles 4-10 Miles 4-10

Breaking from the pack

There was a lot of positioning and movement amid a large group of runners from miles 4 to 10. Meb remained close to the lead, but wasn't always in front.

  • Meb reached Mile 5 in 24 minutes, 29 seconds, and was averaging 4:54 a mile at that point.
  • Josphat Boit crossed the 11-mile mark first, in 54:04, but that was the final time anyone but Meb led the race.
  • A group of American runners that included Ryan Hall and Nick Arciniaga helped Meb stay in front by working together to regulate the pace of the main pack that included most of the elite field.
  • The Boston Marathon runs through eight towns or cities: Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston.
Ashland Clock Tower

Mile 15


Miles 10-20 Miles 10-20

The big lead

Once the race reached mile 10, it was down to Meb and Josphat Boit. Then Boit fell off the pace in the Newton hills, and Meb built a lead of more than a minute.

  • Meb ran his fastest mile between mile marker 15 and 16 – a 4:37 mile on a part of the course that descends 111 feet.
  • The section of the Boston Marathon course that runs by Wellesley College is known as the “Scream Tunnel” because of the enthusiastic support provided by Wellesley College students.
Wellesley College
“Scream Tunnel”


  • The famous Newton Hills begin at mile 16, capped by Heartbreak Hill just after mile 20.
  • Meb reached the top of Heartbreak Hill in 1:41:55
Newton Fire Station

Mile 23


Miles 20-25 Miles 20-25

The gap closes

As the race neared Boston, Kenyan Wilson Chebet surged into the picture. Meb was concerned, looking over his shoulders repeatedly, and the grin on his face turned at times to a grimace.

  • The Boston Marathon course elevation is 30 feet at mile 24. The net drop in elevation from start to finish is 459 feet.
  • Meb clocked his second-fastest mile of the entire race between miles 23 and 24, a 4:47.
  • The Red Sox play a day game every year on Marathon day. This year, they face the Orioles starting at 11:05 a.m.
Citgo Sign

Mile 26


Miles 25-26.2 Miles 25-26.2

The finish

When the race turned onto Hereford Street, Chebet had closed the gap to six seconds. But Meb found another gear, and a surge as he approached Boylston Street propelled him on a victory stroll to the finish line.

  • Meb averaged 4:54 a mile throughout his run. He finished in 2:08:37
  • Since 1995, only five Boston Marathon winners posted times faster than Meb’s 2014 run.
  • The fastest time ever run at the Boston Marathon was in 2011, when Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai won in 2:03:02.
Meb Keflezighi wins the 2014 Boston Marathon

By Matt Pepin

Video by Alan Miller & Alex Lancial

Design and Development by Elaina Natario & Russell Goldenberg

Illustrations by Elaina Natario