Meb Keflezighi’s eyes welled up as he made his way down Boylston Street.
The last three or four miles of Monday’s Boston Marathon didn’t go the way the 2014 champion had planned — he threw up five times over the last few miles after liquid didn’t sit well with him and he was flooded with memories from a year ago.
But down the final stretch, Keflezighi saw the back of Hilary Dionne. Dionne, running in her fourth Boston Marathon, hadn’t had her best day either.
“I was really struggling with the last several miles of the race,” she said. “Just wanted to cross that finish line.”
Then, Dionne, 29, heard a familiar name over the loudspeaker.
“Here comes last year’s Boston Marathon male winner, Meb,” the announcer said as the crowd perked up.
“I knew he was coming, but didn’t know how close he necessarily would be to me as I finished,” said Dionne, a long distance runner at Dartmouth before graduating in 2007.
Keflezighi had his sights set — he wanted to finish alongside Dionne. But he had to sprint to catch up to her. When he did, he grabbed her right hand, clutching it and raising it in the air as they both trotted across the finish line.
“There was a roar [from the crowd],” Dionne said. “Maybe my memory is foggy, but I think people were excited. It’s just a great moment for the city after all it’s been through with the Boston Marathon in particular.”
Though Dionne didn’t top her 2014 time of 2 hours 35 minutes 8 seconds, which earned her 23rd place, she finished Monday in 2:40.42.
“It’s going to be hard now to not be excited about this race looking back just for that and the brief second of crossing the line,” said Dionne, who was able to meet and chat with Keflezighi in the lobby of the Fairmont Copley Plaza.
Keflezighi finished eighth overall and was the second American to cross the finish line in a time of 2:12:42, just behind Dathan Ritzenhein’s 2:11:20.
“I know she didn’t have a great day, I didn’t have a great day either,” Keflezighi said, “but we got to the finish line and to have it on Boylston Street means a lot to all of us just because memories are made on Boylston Street down to that finish line.”
Shortly after she finished, Dionne tweeted her initial reaction.
Follow Rachel G. Bowers on Twitter at @rachelgbowers