Twenty hours after the Boston Marathon began, one runner crossed the finish line on Boylston Street to the cheers and cries of support from fans.
The Boston Globe reports that Maickel Melamed, a 39 year-old man with a condition similar to muscular dystrophy, completed the Boston Marathon on April 21st around 4 A.M. He was the last competitor to finish the race; the course clocks recording the running times were turned off ten hours before.
“For you. I run for you,” Melamed said in City Hall that afternoon celebrating his accomplishment. In a public ceremony, Mayor Martin J. Walsh awarded Melamed with a medal. Melamed was sitting in a wheelchair.
“I run to send a message,” he said. “To rise the bar of expectation for your own self.”
Melamed competed as an international participant via a tour group. Hailing from Venezuela, Melamed suffered birth-related injuries that severely limited his movement and growth. Six years ago, he became interested in running and began training by running a distance of 500 meters. Slowly but surely, he managed to run further distances, eventually reaching the full 26.2 miles (42.2 km) of a marathon.
Boston was his fifth marathon so far, having competed in marathons in Berlin, Chicago, New York, and Tokyo. He claims, though, that Boston has special meaning to him. As a little boy, Melamed came to Boston to seek treatment for his medical condition at Children’s Hospital.
Mayor Walsh, who also received treatment as a boy at Children’s Hospital for a childhood cancer, was astounded in hearing about Melamed’s story. He was so moved, in fact, that he organized an impromptu ceremony at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, just hours after hearing about Melamed on the radio.
“The Boston Marathon is such an incredible race of stories,” Walsh said. “When I heard Maickel’s story of loving Boston and being treated at Children’s Hospital, where I was treated as a little boy, I felt it appropriate to ask Maickel to come in today and recognize him.”
Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans and Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn were also present at the ceremony. Evans gave Melamed two t-shirts commemorating the race, including one with the yellow-and-blue ribbon that has come to represent and honor the 2013 marathon bombings.
“The message here is that love is more powerful than death,” Melamed said. “I learned to say, ‘Good morning’ with a smile on my face here in Boston.”
Every year, more than 500,000 people compete in a marathon in the United States.
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