The top American man in the 2015 Boston Marathon was a rookie to the race: Dathan Ritzenhein, a 32-year-old Michigan native who finished seventh overall.
Ritzenhein, who at points led the pack of 10 elite men that ran together for a good percentage of the race, posted a time of 2:11:20.
“I guess I anticipated [the course] to be really bad, so I was pleasantly surprised that I felt really good,” he said. “It’s the kind of course, I think as a cross-country guy, it felt really good, I felt good rolling over the hills.
“I just felt like I always had some pop in my legs and I think going into it I was very . . . I don’t want to say undertrained . . . but I was fresh throughout most of the training, and so I never felt like I pushed the envelope too hard.
“It’s easy to do that in marathon training.”
One year after inspiring countless runners with his victory in Boston, the first American man in more than 30 years to win the revered race, Meb Keflezighi, finished one spot behind Ritzenhein, in eighth place.
Keflezighi’s official time was 2:12:42. He also was part of that top pack until about Mile 23, around which point he began getting sick because a beverage he took didn’t sit right in his system. Keflezighi said he had to stop to throw up five times over the final miles.
Despite that, the genial Keflezighi still was able to create one of the more memorable moments of the day: As he approached the finish line, he saw one of the elite female runners just in front of him, sprinted to catch up to her, and grabbed and raised her hand in triumph, the two crossing the line together.
The woman, as it turned out, was Charlestown resident and Rhode Island native Hilary Dionne, a former Dartmouth star who has become one of the country’s top female marathoners in a relatively short amount of time.
Meb Keflezighi crosses Boston Marathon finish line with elite amateur Hilary Dionne
In the postrace press conference, Keflezighi laughed and said he had no idea who the woman was, but wanted to show some solidarity.
“I had to sprint hard to catch up to her to do that,” he said. “But that’s what sportsmanship is. You don’t know who the person next to you might be, what they’ve done, but I saw an opportunity for us to finish together and I sprinted.
“It was an amazing opportunity for us to finish together and hopefully it would be memorable for both of us.
“We start together, 26.2-mile journey, and you know the struggle, good and bad, that we go through . . .
“I was very emotional. I was crying on Boylston Street because it brings memories, good and bad, and I didn’t think I was going to catch her, but I did a little surge and it was fun to be able to do that.”
Shortly after the press conference, Keflezighi got to formally meet Dionne, and the two chatted. Dionne, like Keflezighi, wasn’t having her best day on the course, but now has a reason to remember the day fondly.
“I was really struggling the last several miles of the race,” she said. “I just wanted to cross that finish line. It’s going to be hard now not to be excited about this race, looking back just for that and the brief second of crossing the line.”
Keflezighi has been a stellar ambassador for the Marathon over the past year, his graciousness always evident, as it was again on Monday.
Just a couple of weeks shy of his 40th birthday, Keflezighi feels he has about a handful of marathons left in him, and hopes one of them will include the 2016 Summer Olympics marathon in Rio de Janiero.
As he noted, with six Americans among the top 16 male finishers — after Ritzenhein and Keflezighi were Matt Tegenkamp, Jeffrey Eggleston, Nicholas Arciniaga, and Sage Canady — the competition in Los Angeles next February for the three spots on the US team will be stiff.Shalise Manza Young can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.