In becoming the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983, Meb Kefelzighi had a little help from his friends.
After Monday's race, several runners told the website LetsRun.com that Ryan Hall and his compatriots worked together to slow the pace of the elite pack and prevent any challengers from making a late push to overcome Kefelzighi.
Kefelzighi, 38, took an early lead in the race but runner-up Wilson Chebet of Kenya admitted that he and several other elite runners expected Kefelzighi to fade late. Then they would surge and overcome the 2004 Olympic silver medalist.
But as it turned out, Hall persuaded several other top Americans to keep the pace of the pack slow, which would make it harder for another runner to surge later.
American Nicholas Arciniaga, who finished seventh, discussed the strategy with LetsRun.com.
“I was in the lead pack with all of the other Americans and all of the Africans and about 15k to 20k, Ryan Hall and I were running side by side, in front of the lead pack but not really pushing it, and Ryan just kept turning over to me, talking (to me and saying), ‘Hey don’t push the pace. If they want to let those guys go, they are going to have work to catch back up to them. We are not going to help them out with that at all. If we want an American to win, this is how it’s going to be done.”
Craig Leon, who finished 12th, confirmed Arciniaga's story.
“I think it was maybe halfway or a little past halfway and it had slowed kind of considerably and Jason (Hartmann) and I were kind of moving our way through the pack and were just going to maintain pace (and keep moving up), and at one point, Ryan he looked at both of us, and he was like, ‘Let’s give Meb a little bit of distance. I think he’s up there with JB. (Josphat Boit).’
“So we kept it slow. I don’t know if that did anything to help. But those guys had to work to catch Meb. I think Ryan was really smart to (think to) be able to say that (in the middle of the race).”
It was a selfless and cunning move by Hall, who valued a victory for his country over a better individual performance. (He finished 20th.)
Had higher hopes and expectations of myself,but I'm thankful to b healthy and a part of @bostonmarathon this important year.So proud of Meb!
— Ryan Hall (@ryanhall3) April 21, 2014
At one point about halfway through the race, Hall's work helped Kefelzighi to a 1-minute, 21-second advantage over the pack. By the time runners made their final push, Kefelzighi had built an insurmountable lead.
(H/T to the Washington Post)