A Venezuelan economist with muscular dystrophy was the last man to finish the Boston Marathon, 20 hours after the race began, and long after Monday's crowds had gone home. Still, he crossed the finish line to a champion's welcome.
Maickel Melamed, 39, hobbled through pouring rain on Boston's mostly empty streets to reach the finish line at 5 a.m. on Tuesday. He was surrounded by a group of ecstatic Venezuelans who cheered him on and counted out his final steps.
“The rain the distance the cold, everything today was overcome because we are a team,” Melamed said in English upon crossing the finish line.
“The human creativity, the human magic appears every time,” he told a pack of local news cameras who gathered around him.
Melamed’s achievements are already famous in Venezuela, where he is a well known youth educator and motivational speaker. Though he suffers from a condition that severely weakens his muscles, Melamed has already participated in five major marathons, and climbed his nation's highest peak.
Venezuelans supported Melamed throughout Monday's race on Twitter. "Seeing Melamed cross the line makes my heart grow large," said TV presenter Alejandra Oraa.
"Thank you for educating us for life," wrote journalist Shirley Varnagy.
Edgar Ramirez, a well know Venezuelan actor travelled to Boston and crossed the finish line with Melamed.
Melamed says he trains for months prior to each race, and uses the events to show people that dreams are attainable if you “set a goal for yourself.”
The motivational speaker was also the last man to finish the marathons in New York (2011), Berlin (2012), and Chicago (2013). He ran each race at his own pace, taking more than 15 hours to cross the finish line.
The Boston Marathon was a comeback for Melamed, after he failed to finish the 2014 Tokyo Marathon. In Tokyo, Melamed succumbed to fatigue at the 32-KM mark.
Before Monday’s race, Melamed said Boston will be his last marathon because he wants to set new challenges for himself.
As his country undergoes a severe economic crisis and product shortages force Venezuelans to make long lines outside supermarkets to find basic things like toilet paper, Melamed offered some words of support and encouragement for his compatriots.
“Today we conquered something that seemed impossible,” he tweeted. “Today more than ever, #WeArePossible Thanks to everyone #LetsGoBoston.”
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.