HEALTH

After 20 hours, Boston marathoner with muscular dystrophy crosses finish line

  • Maickel Melamed at the starting line of the 2015 Boston Marathon.

    Maickel Melamed at the starting line of the 2015 Boston Marathon.  (Twitter via Maickel Melamed)

  • Maickel Melamed, a Venezuelan runner with muscular dystrophy, works through the Boston Marathon.

    Maickel Melamed, a Venezuelan runner with muscular dystrophy, works through the Boston Marathon.  (Twitter via Maickel Melamed)

This was Maickel Melamed’s last marathon – he wanted to run Boston even if he came in last. Standing up to a type of muscular dystrophy that has severely impaired his mobility, Melamed finished the 26.2-mile race Tuesday morning, about 20 hours after he started.

The 39-year-old athlete, who is Venezuelan, dedicated the feat to his afflicted country.

“Today we conquered something impossible, today more than ever #wearepossible. Thank you everyone,” he tweeted in Spanish after the race, adding, “We arrived. We did it together. Thank you Venezuela, this accomplishment we dedicate it to you, we love you and you deserve the best!”

Throughout the race, a team of volunteers tweeted his progress as he surpassed mile after mile at his own pace – including those toward the end under torrential downpours and thunderstorms.

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Melamed suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy, an incurable disease that has severely impaired his mobility but has not stopped him from competing in marathons around the world since 2011.

He has previously participated in the marathons in Chicago, New York, Berlin and Tokyo, but Boston holds special meaning for him because it’s the city where his parents first brought him for treatment, he said.

The Boston race marked his last.

“It’s time to close the circle, a good-bye and because of this today is a day full of emotions,” Melamed said before starting his race around 8:50 a.m., according to Univision.

Throughout his race, a team of volunteers tweeted his progress as he surpassed mile after mile at his own pace.

According to his website, Melamed was born April 27, 1975 after a long and arduous labor that was complicated because his umbilical cord was tied around his neck, leaving his body without moving.

Doctors’ expectations were grim, but Melamed and his family blew those out of the water because living was more important.

He has since graduated from the Catholic University Andres Bello in Caracas and has become an inspiring public speaker around the world with the purpose of helping people know their true potential.

Vamos paso a paso. Llevamos 19 horas, 20 minutos, y estamos llegando a los últimos 900 mts.Mucho cansancio, que sólo se...

Posted by Maickel Melamed on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

At about 5 a.m. Tuesday, Melamed was the last finisher of the Boston Marathon, crossing the finish line with dozens and friends and supporters cheering him on.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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