New York, June 7, 2017 – One of the greatest marathon runners of all time, Meb Keflezighi, is being honored today at Yankee Stadium during his final season as a professional athlete. The only athlete ever to win the New York City Marathon, Boston Marathon and an Olympic medal, the 42-year-old Keflezighi will retire following the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon on November 5. His final race will be the 26th marathon of his career, a mark synonymous with the 26.2 miles that make up a marathon.
I would like to thank the New York Yankees for inviting me to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium and for their support of Global Running Day,“I would like to thank the New York Yankees for inviting me to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium and for their support of Global Running Day,” said Keflezighi. “I am excited that I will get to share this special experience with 26 young champions who participate in NYRR youth running programs. I hope that we can inspire Yankee fans at the stadium and many more watching on TV to make running a part of their lifestyle.”
A natural fit for today’s Yankees-Red Sox game, Keflezighi has become a fan favorite in both New York City and Boston though his stirring victories and commitment to the two cities. In 2009, Keflezighi became the first American to win the New York City Marathon since 1982. His final race on the streets of New York City in 2017 will be his 11th New York City Marathon, a record number for a professional athlete. In 2014, Keflezighi won an emotional Boston Marathon, crossing the line a year after terrorist bombing tragedy, dedicating his win to the victims of the bombings.
“Meb has been one of the most important figures ever in the history of marathon running and his impact on the New York City Marathon is on par with the legendary Grete Waitz,” said Peter Ciaccia, NYRR president of events and race director of the TCS New York City Marathon. “Sports evolve through their superstars, and Meb has led the way over the past two decades through his performances and contributions both on and off the field of play. There’s no better place to celebrate his impact than at legendary Yankee Stadium. He has been and will continue to be an inspiration to runners of all ages and abilities.”
Keflezighi has lived the American dream, becoming a U.S. citizen in 1998 and representing the U.S. at four Olympic Games, taking home a silver medal from the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon. After emigrating to the U.S. from a war-torn Eritrea with his family at the age of 11, Keflezighi quickly discovered his talent and passion for running. A standout high school athlete, he was recruited by the country’s top universities and ultimately decided on UCLA where he became an All-American, a four-time NCAA champion, and launched his remarkable career that has spanned two decades.
Joining Keflezighi on his ceremonial pre-game run from the outfield to the home plate will be 26 students from PS/MS 15 in the Bronx. The students are among the more than 350 participants from PS/MS 15 that take part in NYRR’s Rising New York Road Runners program, a free physical education program designed to build self-assurance and inspire healthy attitudes toward activity and fitness from an early age. The Rising New York Road Runners at PS/MS 15 are led by Shawanda Weems, a 2016 TCS New York City Marathon finisher and teacher in the New York City public school system for nearly 20 years who has received national recognition for her commitment to encourage her students to lead healthy, active lives.
“This Global Running Day run with 26 Rising New York Road Runners at his side is the perfect metaphor for the impact Meb has made in his career as they represent his 26 career marathons as well as a long-standing commitment to inspiring the next generation of runners,” said Michael Capiraso, president and CEO at NYRR. “As an NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador, Meb leads by example to encourage our youth to stick with the healthy and active behaviors NYRR works hard to instill at a young age.”
Created by NYRR to instill kids with the skills and confidence to stay healthy and active for life, Rising New York Road Runners focuses on fostering fundamental movement and sport skills, and aims to teach assurance and competence in young athletes, rather than reward top performances. Coaches introduce age-appropriate skills as students grow, based on a timeline backed by the latest in physical education research. All Rising New York Road Runners sites have access to an online activity database, making it simple to tailor lesson plans based on space, equipment, time available, and the students’ ages and abilities. The customized curriculum can be incorporated as part of the school’s PE classes, during recess, classroom breaks, or offered as an extracurricular enrichment program before or after school.
Global Running Day, held annually on the first Wednesday in June, is a day for people around the world to celebrate the joys of running. Global Running Day is a collaborative effort, and NYRR is working with partner organizations from around the world and many of the top professional runners to share their passion for the sport with the global running community. More than a million people from more than 150 countries are expected to run on Global Running Day. NYRR activities across New York City today included an NYRR Fun Run for over a thousand students at Icahn Stadium, NYRR Open Runs for communities in every borough, pop-up water stations at running locations at various New York City Parks and world record attempt for the most people in a treadmill relay at the NYRR RUNCENTER on West 57th Street. For more information about Global Running Day, please visit GlobalRunningDay.org.
About New York Road Runners (NYRR)
Founded in 1958, New York Road Runners has grown from a local running club to the world’s premier community running organization, whose mission is to help and inspire people through running. NYRR’s commitment to New York City’s five boroughs features races, community events, youth running initiatives, school programs, and training resources that provide hundreds of thousands of people each year, from children to seniors, with the motivation, know-how, and opportunity to Run for Life. NYRR’s premier event, and the largest marathon in the world, is the TCS New York City Marathon. Held annually on the first Sunday in November, the race features 50,000 runners, from the world’s top professional athletes to a vast range of competitive, recreational, and charity runners. To learn more, visit nyrr.org.