GREEN BAY - He didn’t win, but Meb Keflezighi was surely part of the most selfies.
“A lot of selfies and it's been a lot of fun,” said Keflezighi.
The 39-year-old Keflezighi grabbed the nation’s attention after winning the 2014 Boston Marathon, becoming the first American to win the race since Greg Meyer in 1983. Saturday morning, Keflezighi ran in his first Bellin Run, the 10k race in Green Bay.
“Great community event, great neighborhoods,” said Keflezighi. “Everybody cheering, had the chairs out. I couldn't help it but to run fast as much as I can.”
Keflezighi finished third overall with a time of 29:58. Allan Kiprono won the race with a time of 28:41, followed by last year’s winner Lani Rutto at 29:44. Keflezighi ran with the top pair for the first two miles before they pulled away. Keflezighi said he was running a moderate pace – moderate, while still averaging sub-5 minute miles – as part of his training regimen and since he is still recovering from the marathon.
Keflezighi did do some extra running: after crossing the finish line himself, he ran back on the course several times, turning around to finish again with other runners. He then stood just across the finish line, high fiving those who just completed their race and posing for numerous pictures, many of the 'selfie' variety.
“Kind of put that energy, a little smile on their face,” said Keflezighi. “Like, 'it's Meb!' Then all of the sudden they're not tired anymore, it's just like, thumbs up.”
The presence of the notable Boston Marathon winner and icon within the running community resonated with other runners.
“I was really excited,” said former Green Bay East High School runner Armando Torres, who finished 8th overall. “I got goose bumps the whole time. I was like, 'oh boy, oh boy.'”
Other runners were surprised to see such a big-name runner in the field.
“That's really cool, especially that he's here in Green Bay,” said Hilbert’s Leslie Franczek. “It's just really cool being in the same place they are.”
Keflezighi’s appearance was sponsored by Bellin, but he said after the race he hopes to return to the race – and perhaps for another one of Green Bay’s prime attractions.
“This was a wonderful, wonderful experience,” said Keflezighi “I would love to come back. I had a great tour of the Packers stadium yesterday, I would love to come back for a game.”