Keflezighi Places Third at Boston Marathon

April 17, 2006

BOSTON (from USA T & F) - In an incredible showing for American distance running, Americans - UCLA great Meb Keflezighi, Brian Sell and Alan Culpepper - finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, as five American men were in the top 10 on Monday at the 110th Boston Marathon. Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya won his second career Boston title with a course-record time of 2:07:14.

Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, and Culpepper, the Olympic Trials champion, ran with the leaders from the start. The two were joined in the initial lead pack by early leader John Yuda of Tanzania and Benjamin Maiyo of Kenya. Sell, 9th at the 2004 World Outdoor Championships marathon, ran more conservatively in the pack.

In an unusual development on the challenging Boston course, a lead group of three separated themselves early, with Maiyo, Keflezighi and first-time marathoner Deriba Merga of Ethiopia controlling the race as Culpepper began to drop back. The top three came through 10 miles in 48:07.

Running easily, Maiyo made a break at just under 71 minutes into race - his third surge in a span of 10 minutes. The move strung out the top trio and caused Merga to drop off the pace. The 2003 champion, Robert Cheruiyot, quickly took Merga's place, however. Cheruiyot gained ground on Meb, passing him approximately 1:23 into the race as Maiyo continued to lead.

But it was Cheruiyot who was strongest over the final miles. He went on to pass Maiyo and win his second Boston title in 2:07:14, breaking Cosmas Ndeti's 1994 course record of 2:07:15. Maiyo was second in 2:08:21, and Keflezighi followed in his Boston debut in 2:09:56, just off his personal best of 2:09:53. Sell moved up into fourth to finish in 2:10:55 in a huge personal best - his previous being 2:13:22. Culpepper was fifth in 2:11:05, and Americans Peter Gilmore and Clint Verran were seventh (2:12:45PR) and 10th (2:14:12PR), respectively.

Keflezighi had come through the half marathon in 1:02:45, with Culpepper at 1:03:27 and Sell nearly two-and-a-half minutes behind Meb at 1:05:17. Keflezighi's early, aggressive running caught up to him, but he looked to have more opportunities to compete in Boston and improve on his showing.

'I know I ran well today, but it wasn't my best,' Keflezighi said. 'The pressure was on. Hopefully I'll get a chance to come back. The first time [at Boston] is a challenge and you get a feeling for it, but I'm excited about next time.'

Rita Jeptoo of Kenya won the women's title in 2:23:38. Emily Levan was the top American woman, finishing 13th in 2:37:01.

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