Last week, American marathoner Meb Keflezighi announced on his official website that he will not be running in this year’s Boston Marathon, but not because of injury or unpreparedness. Instead, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2009 New York City Marathon champion was not presented with an offer by the race’s elite athlete coordinator despite there being communication between marathon organizers from John Hancock and Meb’s brother and agent Hawi.
Keflezighi now plans to focus on shorter distance races in the spring and summer, notably the New York City Half Marathon on March 20. He will then run a fall marathon and attempt the quick turnaround to the Olympic Marathon Trials in January 2012.
The fact that America’s most accomplished marathoner of this generation is not invited to any major domestic race is a travesty. Meb’s camp didn’t appear to be making unrealistic demands from the Boston organizers although so far we have only heard one side of the story. On the other hand, golden boy Ryan Hall’s entrance into the race was announced well before the rest of the field, a clear statement that the “great white hope” means more than the man who has actually won something for America.
What does it mean for the state of American distance running when its top stars can’t even get into races in the country? Race organizers appear to be too concerned about their bottom line rather than giving Meb a chance to run. Paying Keflezighi an appearance fee would of course be more costly than getting the services of an up-and-coming Kenyan marathoner, but deprives kids lining the streets of Boston from the opportunity to see a man with USA on his chest from contending for the win.