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November 5, 2017

Geoffrey Kamworor

Wilson Kipsang

Lelisa Desisa

Meb Keflezighi

Abdi Abdirahman

New York, New York

THE MODERATOR: I'll bring up our men's podium. Third place, Lelisa Desisa from Ethiopia; second place, Wilson Kipsang of Kenya; and our winner, with the time of 2:10:53, also of Kenya, Geoffrey Kamworor. We're also going to bring up our top American today and top Masters runner, Abdi Abdirahman. And we're going to bring up a man who doesn't need much of an introduction, here for the final time in this capacity, Meb Keflezighi.

Lelisa, I'd like to start with you. When Wilson and Geoffrey made their move, what went through your head?

LELISA DESISA: Thank you very much. I think I tried to pass them, but I come from injury. My left leg is tight today. Because of that, I tried to pass, and when I try, I can't. After that, I decided to keep my third place to finish.

THE MODERATOR: Wilson, that was one heck of a kick those last 200 meters. If you had a little bit more room, would you be wearing the gold today?

WILSON KIPSANG: Yeah, I think for sure. I've got to say I started my kick a little bit late, but I think, if I could really be a bit closer, I think I will -- I still felt that I was still very strong. I think I could really -- I could have really out sprinted him in the last finish.

But thank you so much. I want to congratulate him for having really won, and he's really very strong for him to really sustain that pace. I want to say thank you so much.

THE MODERATOR: Abdi, I want to ask you a question, top American here two years in a row, a Masters record at this course today. There's all this talk about, of course, Meb's final race. Shalane has hinted this might be her final race. You're just warming up.

ABDI ABDIRAHMAN: I don't know if I'm warming up. It's been an amazing day for American distance running again, Shalane winning and also our legend Meb retiring today. Just was amazing just to see Meb at the front at the 30K. You just never count Meb out. He's been inspirational to me. He's been a great friend.

Today I want to do something special, but unfortunately, I fell down. Things didn't go my way. But at the same time, just I learned from Meb. He just never gives up. When I stand up, I saw Meb running with the lead group, and I say, you know what, I'm not going to let him alone. Today's his last day. I'm going to keep him company as much as I can. I build up toward the group, and then I get to the front, and I told him I fell down, and he didn't even see.

For me, retiring, I don't know. Maybe I'm going to take one year at a time. I enjoy running, but I'm not 42 yet. So maybe when I'm 42, I'll think about it.

THE MODERATOR: Geoffrey, you've got two World Cross Country championships, two World Half Marathon championships. How does it feel to finally add marathon winner to that resume?

SHALANE FLANAGAN: First and foremost, I feel great to come back to New York City. It was really great. And I'm really delighted to have won a marathon. So for me, it's a fantastic moment. I'm really happy to win a marathon for the first time since running a marathon. This was my sixth marathon, and that was my first victory marathon.

THE MODERATOR: Meb, you went for it. When you crossed that line, you just collapsed at the finish line. Exhaustion, emotion, a little bit of both?

MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Well, I'm going and coming here. Thanks to the New York Road Runners for giving me the opportunity to finish my 26th marathon. I'm a fan of the sport and fans for these great guys here. Ladies, what a day for America, Shalane Flanagan, just incredible. I heard that she won at 24, and I think I did a jump with both hands in the air.

But it was just exhaustion and emotion, emotion through the course, but at the end, it was just pure exhaustion. I wanted to get through that finish line. My goal was to be top three, to be top ten, and I was up in the front. I went for it, no regrets.

In training, I always say success is done in preparation. I did everything that I can to give it all the opportunities and chance to train at Mammoth Lakes and in San Diego with my mentor Bob Larsen. We did everything.

Now on the course, you've got to run the course. It was a beautiful victory lap, you could say, to be up at the front and mix it up with all the great runners that New York runners provide here and set the stage for us.

You know, the emotion gets into you just to be able to get to the finish line. People that were commentating, I think they were waiting for the pushup, but there was no pushup today. That was it. I stopped four times probably, four or five times, same old usual thing. When you are 42 years old and competing against the best of the best in the world, your body is not right.

So I know that I can say I gave it all that I had in training, I gave it all that I had today. New York came out to support me, all the runners, 50,000 deep. Honored to be here and to get this special medal, 26. To be able to be there, just I guess it was meant to be through the finish line. So I'm honored to be here.

Q. Meb, what was it like for you coming from L.A., doing what you did in Boston in the face of terror, and then being back here in New York days after the recent terrorist attack?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Life is a journey. Marathon's a journey. But sports is a celebration. To have the catastrophic moment that we had here in lower Manhattan, it makes us appreciate that much more for life. When you injure, when you come back from a terrible run, you have that much more appreciation. New York, they're resilient. Boston Strong and New York came out today with that electrifying energy and cheer us on. We have to move on forward.

For me, my life has been to run to overcome, as I said in my book. It's just -- we have to move on somehow, some way, and you want to be able to pull it off for New York this time around. But the body, when it's 42 years old, Ghirmay Gebrselassie made a move, and I just didn't have the turnover and the separation happening, but then I made it off the ground, and that was the last because I used every energy to catch up and try the podium.

You try to inspire others. New York is -- I'd like to say it's my city. I want to be able to protect it and just give it a shot. And everybody came, and it was a great turnout. So Boston, winning the victory, having the name of the victims on my bib to draw inspiration. Today I tried to kind of give a little bit of that.

But you've just got to move on with life, and my heart and prayers and sympathy goes to the families that have been affected and the students and everything that were involved in there.

Q. Abdi, could you tell me what happened at that water station.
ABDI ABDIRAHMAN: Somebody hit me from the back. I don't know what it was. I just remember hitting the ground so hard, and I laid there for a few seconds. It did affect me. When you run a marathon, you need all your concentration, everything that you can get. That just did break my concentration.

When I got up, my ankle was so painful, my hip was bothering me. I thought about all the training I've been through the past few months, and I said, I can't stop just at the 5K mark. What went through my head was my coach, all the people who supported me, the people -- all the investments that I make getting ready for this race. And all those thoughts went through my head within a second, and I just start running, trying to build up into the lead group.

But I was struggling until the 15, 16 mile with the pain in my ankle and my knee. You know, it did affect me, but it's not an excuse. I give it my best. I give 110 percent, and I was seventh, and I'm happy with it.

THE MODERATOR: For those of you who didn't hear the question, Abdi was responding to what happened at that first water stop where he tripped.

Q. Geoffrey, how did your experiences in 2015 actually finishing in 2:10:48, close to what you finished today, how did those experiences in 2015 help you today?
GEOFFREY KAMWOROR: 2015 was my first time running New York City Marathon, and I found the course very exciting and very nice. There are many people to cheer on, so it keeps a lot of motivation. So for me today, I knew that it's really a nice course, and I knew that there's enough support.

So the little experience I had in 2015, this is what I had to put the best in today's race.

Q. Wilson, as you mentioned, you only lost by three seconds, and you think that, if you had more space, you maybe could have come out on top. Did you just run out of energy there after the long marathon?
WILSON KIPSANG: I think for sure. I want to really say that my energy's good. I was feeling good all from the start. You could see all along when I would try to push a little bit because you know I'm so much used to a fast race, a faster pace. Now it's a different situation where there's no pacesetter. So sometimes the pace is becoming slow. There's no one to pick up a faster pace. So sometimes you would see I was really trying to push it out a little bit, trying to maintain.

But for me, to run such a time here, I think I'm not really so much exhausted, yeah, but with this kind of course, it is work, not the time. Thank you.

Q. Geoffrey, I was wondering, in those last couple of strides you were taking, you were looking over your shoulder a little bit and peeking who was coming up behind you. What were you thinking during those moments?
GEOFFREY KAMWOROR: For me, I knew that I had made a decisive move, and I was focusing on the finish line. But when I look at the camera, I saw someone was coming, which was Wilson, and I had to believe in myself because I was holding out for the finish. So I had to do my best to make sure that I won. And I really thank God I won.

Q. Meb, I wanted to ask a quick question. In terms of the defending champion Ghirmay dropping out, do you think he went at it too strongly after an injury? I know he had an injury and he got surgery done earlier this year. Do you think that caused him to go down, or how did you guys feel running with him?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Ghirmay was very strong, and he was in control a lot of the race just to be in the lead. He was confident, and I was surprised that he dropped out. I saw him, and I stopped a couple times, and I encouraged him to go to the finish line. He said he was injured. I just stopped and gave him a hug and kind of kept going.

But, yeah, I think tactically there was a lot of surges that were out of your comfort zone. So those can come to bite you in Central Park. So the surges, like fartlek kind of thing, probably cost him. Geoffrey played it very smart. He wasn't in the lead by any means early on. Just played safe, and when it counted, he was able to prevail with the rest. And those quick moves can catch you -- can get you in the marathon, and Ghirmay was doing a lot of those.

Q. This question is for Geoffrey and Wilson. Can you guys talk about maybe the early parts of the race. Were you surprised at how tactical and slow the race did go out?
WILSON KIPSANG: I think we don't really talk about plans so much because in any race you find that the only thing we really want so much is, if we want to go for a fast time, we really request one another to support each other during the race to make sure that we really try to go for a fast time. And then towards the end, whoever is strong will automatically win.

But it's not my discussion of how we should do it because each and every one has his own strategy of racing.

THE MODERATOR: Geoffrey, the early pace, how did that feel for you? The early conservative pace.

GEOFFREY KAMWOROR: Okay, I think for me we hadn't planned any strategies because it was a competition, and in a competition everyone has his own race, and everyone is trying for a great result, and that's how it was.

Q. Meb, did you ever have a moment when you thought maybe this could be like Boston, maybe you can go out with a win?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: Absolutely. I'm not going to say I didn't. You know, I was in the lead early on, but I was more staying away from don't get tripped and be smart, and when it was windy, I would tuck in behind. But, yeah, I think, when we were halfway, I felt comfortable. I knew there was going to be a big deciding factor at one point. You know, it depends on what stage of the run it is, but I know I'm -- for me, I'm not too sore right now, where in other marathons I have been, but it's just, when the turnover is fast, I just can't do it. There's no way.

Back in the days in my youth, I can respond. I can react, I can make moves, but now I know none of those work. But part of me in the front was trying to keep a consistent, even pace for as much as I can.

My goal was, if I can make it to 23, 24 miles with the group, then the crowd will give me a little boost. Obviously, at 22 or 21 -- 22 is when I stopped and three other stops. So that chance maybe was a less than 1 percent chance, .2 percent chance of a marathon, slight chance, but everything has to go perfect and it didn't. The goal was to be maybe top ten or top three, but you play it by ear and do it by feel. Again, the finish line was very important to me, though, and honored to be here.

Q. Meb, Shalane called you the absolute role model and said she was thinking of you sort of the last few miles, and I think that's sort of a fair assessment. How do you feel sort of being the standard bearer for American distance runners the last, I don't know, 15 years.
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: It's an honor to be called a role model. Then Wilson here, how often do you have -- the first thing he came in, he said let's take a picture together. And Geoffrey Mutai in the past, in front of Mary Wittenberg, said you're my hero. It's an amazing respect we have for each other.

Shalane and I have been texting a lot since Mammoth and e-mailing each other words of encouragement. I just couldn't be happier for her. I'm like on top. She deserves one of those, whether it's here or Boston, and I'm so delighted for her.

'98, 20 years almost ago, I wanted to bring a resurgence to distance running. It's what I bet on to UCLA, and I needed the support to hopefully do that. To see it here and be on the same street with her and others, Americans that have done well, it's just a great honor. But my time has come where time to pass on the torch, and I'm so delighted for her to be able to just pull the victory.

I'm honored. I'm really honored. Standing ovation by the coaches, agents, male, female, and peers at the technical meeting means a lot to me because that's what this sport is. When you get the love and respect of your peers and they look at you as a role model, definitely honored.

THE MODERATOR: We have 26 marathons worth of memories to talk about here, so we could be here all day, and we might. Before we move on, any questions for Abdi, Lelisa, Wilson, or 2017 TCS New York City Marathon Champion Geoffrey?

Q. Geoffrey, just to touch on one of the previous questions, when you were peeking and looking back and you could feel Wilson coming, did you feel you needed to pick up your pace, or did you think you had enough just to maintain to get across the finish line?
GEOFFREY KAMWOROR: I think when I get to Central Park there, I saw on the screen, I saw Wilson coming. So what was in my mind is I had to believe in myself that I'm a track runner and I should have enough speed to sprint. So I had that belief, yeah.

Q. My question goes to Meb. Congratulations to all of you for the successful finish. But, Meb, you are such a celebrity, and though you are retiring today from being an active competitor on the marathons, what would be your next plan in life?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: You know, it's always an honor to run. It's an honor to represent the United States at all levels -- cross country level, track, marathoning. For 27 years my life has been what is next, what is next, but for me, coaching is an interest, especially at colleges, motivational speaking, sharing my story, and family is another one. But also the Meb Foundation, maintaining an excellent balance for health, education, and fitness comes from the bottom of my heart, that I can give back because the sport has meant so much to me. And I'm in a position to make a difference with a medal in the Olympics, winning Boston, winning New York.

What's next is to spend my time with my wife and kids. My parents just prayed for me to have a healthy life, to be able to enjoy time with the family because I missed out on a lot. I sacrificed a lot. But there's been so many people behind the scenes who made me be who I am, the man that I am, including my mentor Bob Larsen, my brother Howie, and then my wife, she put her pause on life working to be able to help me be an athlete.

So now that has come to an end, and I always believe surround yourself with good people, God has a plan for me. Whatever that destination may be, I just hope to follow that path that he has laid in front of me.

In '98, I wrote a letter to people to say, help me do this, accomplish those things. That's been accomplished. Now I'm prayerful, thankful for those opportunities to help others. So to be able to pace people in a half marathon or shorter races, to occasionally do marathon to bring awareness or charity to help people, I can do those. And training for this marathon, I've done like six, seven long runs that are 20 or more miles. So I think I would like to jump into races and make a difference.

Q. Meb, what are you going to miss most about competition?
MEB KEFLEZIGHI: When you are known as a competitor, when you have the grit to just pull it off, the victories, at that young age it's doable. As you get older, it's not doable. Like today, my mind says go, but my body says you can't go. Competition is what makes all of us great.

What I'm going to miss is the friendship that I make with fellow competitors. I'm going to miss definitely the VIP service from the New York Road Runners. I grew up with three bedroom, one bathroom. They gave me the presidential suite for my family and for me. So it's very humbling to know where your background is, where you came from, to have escalated to this level. They've done everything that I can remember ever since I won the medal for the United States, first class service. So I'll definitely miss that part.

But competition -- you know, you look back to the 10K or cross country and those things, you think about comparing yourself to others, but I don't look back. I said no regrets. That's why I did everything I can in training and in competition today to complete my career. You look back and live -- I'm a fan of the sport. I'll live vicariously for the next Americans who rise up and the next other world stage runners. So I'm still a fan of the sport.

THE MODERATOR: Abdi Abdirahman, Lelisa Desisa, Wilson Kipsang, Geoffrey Kamworor, and, of course, Meb Keflezighi.

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