It took Maickel Melamed 20 hours to complete the 26.2-mile race. He was the final person to do so, crossing the finish line just before 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, almost a day after the event began.
Melamed is a 39-year-old Venezuelan man with muscular dystrophy, according to multiple media reports from Boston. As he progressed on his journey, he was joined by a group of well-wishers and media members. One of those people was photographer Michael Blanchard, who describes the inspiring scene about as well as anyone.
Blanchard posted an album of Melamed’s accomplishment to Facebook, along with a description of the scene. Here’s a snippet:
Since I am up all night anyway, I decided to head into town to try and photograph him crossing the finish line. When I got there I was told by a cameraman that he was still in Brookline. Knowing it would be a while before he made it to Copley Square, I drove to Beacon Street to see what the deal was. Soon I came upon about a hundred people walking (very slowly) and singing while cars passed by them. It was truly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
“The rain, the distance, the cold — I mean everything today was overcome because when we are a team, the human creativity, the human magic appears every time,” Melamed himself said after finishing the course.
As Melamed slowly progressed along the 26.2-mile route, updates to his Twitter account documented his progress. This post roughly translates to: “Here we continue, with a lot of tiredness but also a lot of desire to complete this dream.”
Here’s a short video of Melamed grinding along a few hours before he finished. You can hear well wishers clapping and encouraging him on.
On Tuesday, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh presented Melamed with a race medal — a most well-deserved race medal.
Melamed told reporters after the race that the Boston Marathon holds extra special meaning for him — his parents brought him to the city as a child so doctors could treat his muscular dystrophy.
“So this is something very personal,” a friend named Albert Deveer said after the race. “For (Melamed) to finish his last marathon in the city that really gave him life and the possibility of doing what he is doing today.”
Deever also added that Melamed, who’s participated in other marathons in the past, is well-known as an inspirational figure back home.
“For the Venezuelan people, he is like a symbol of hope,” Deveer said. “He gives this message: If you can dream it, you can do it.”
We’re sure that after Tuesday’s feat, Melamed’s inspirational power now extends farther than ever.