The look on Meb Keflezighi’s face in the first mile of this morning’s Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon said it all: this was his race, in his hometown, and it was going to be run on his terms.
Tearing through the first mile in 4:47, only three-time New York City Marathon champion and two-time London Marathon winner Martin Lel of Kenya went with Keflezighi, who was running his first half marathon in the city where he grew up.
Lel sat contently on Keflezighi’s shoulder through the 5-mile mark (23:27) before the Olympic silver medalist decided enough was enough. After Lel refused Keflezighi’s invitation to take over the lead 5-1/2 miles into the race, the 2009 New York City Marathon champion broke free and opened up a large lead he held all the way to the finish line. Keflezighi, who went through 10K in 29:03 and 15K in 43:45, broke the tape at Sea World in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 40 seconds–1:58 up on second-place finisher Drew Polley, who represents the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Lel, who finished second at the London Marathon just 7 weeks ago, dropped out of the race just after the 10K mark.