SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - After one of the best distance running careers in American history, San Diego native Meb Keflezighi is running his final Boston Marathon on Monday.
Keflegzighi won the event in 2014 -- the year after a bombing killed three people and injured hundreds of others, including 16 who lost limbs.
Keflegzighi didn't run in the 2013 race, but he was in the grandstand watching and left just a few minutes before the blast.
He calls the 2014 win the most memorable of his career.
"To have it all come together like it did for me in 2014, to have the victims' names on my bib, to draw inspiration, it was a defining moment in my career," Keflegzighi said. "Definitely the most meaningful victory. It was 'Boston Strong,' and I gave them 'Meb Strong.' If anyone was going to catch me, I would make them earn it. And they never caught me."
That win was the capstone of an already stellar career. Keflegzighi won the 2009 New York City Marathon and captured a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics. He's also a 4-time NCAA champion.
Despite his success, runners in San Diego call him one of the most approachable stars ever.
"I don't know that you're going to find another Meb out there," said Garrett Sheehan, a marketing manager for Road Runner Sports. "He's such a friendly guy. He relates to everybody, and it's really cool that an athlete who's done so much is so approachable and personable."
Keflegzighi still runs around San Diego, calling Mission Bay his home office. He said connecting with local runners is his way to give back to the city that gave him so much.
Keflezighi came to San Diego as a refugee from Eritrea.
"When I came here, I was 13 years old, didn't speak English, just the clothes on my back. But I had my family and their support, and San Diego raised me to be the man that I am," he said. "The community embraced me, so I always try to represent the city the best that I can."
He'll have two more chances -- the Boston Marathon, and then the New York City Marathon in November.
Keflegzighi said the New York City Marathon will be his 26th, and he'll be 42 when he retires. That's fitting because a marathon has 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers. Yes, he planned it that way. The idea came to him back in 2015 when he started to contemplate retiring.
"I know I was put on this Earth to be a runner and have a positive impact on people," he said.
Runners in San Diego say he's done that, and more.
MARATHON UPDATE: Meb Keflegzighi finished 13th in Monday's race with a time of 2:17:00. Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya won the race, finishing with a time of 2:09:37.