The storied Boston Marathon was held on Monday, and wet conditions made the notoriously hilly course a challenge for many runners. And while there's always lots of celebrating centered around the male and female winners (Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, 2:09:17, and Caroline Rotich of Kenya, 2:24:55,) we'd also like to take a moment to honor the very last person to finish the race.
At about 5 a.m. yesterday, 39-year-old Maickel Melamed crossed the finish on Boylston Street. It took him about 20 hours through wind, rain, and cold—and he was so happy because he wasn't sure he'd make it.
The Venezuelan man has muscular dystrophy, a disease that causes muscle weakness and muscle loss, and it severely impairs his mobility. He was accompanied by volunteers along the entire 26.2-mile course.
"I know that people see me walking, but to me, it's running to my maximum potential," he told WCVB, the local ABC affiliate in Boston.
It was Melamed's fifth(!) marathon—he's completed races in Chicago, New York City, Berlin, and Tokyo—but he said the city of Boston is special to him because his parents brought him to Boston Children's Hospital for medical treatments when he was younger.
He was honored at Boston's City Hall on Tuesday in a ceremony where Mayor Marty Walsh gave him his finisher's medal. Walsh said his story was "truly one of inspiration."
"After 20 hours of rain, wind, and cold, Boston is still strong," he said at the ceremony, playing off of the "Boston Strong" motto. "The whole city has been so helpful and so loving."
Melamed, who said the course was very tough, told WCVB about his race strategy: "My physical trainers came up with an amazing way to keep going. I'd rest 10 seconds, then (take) four to six steps. It was a real exciting way to finish."