Chicago Marathon final runner Maickel Melamed completes race Monday in triumphant finish

October 14, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Melamed was the last person to cross the finish line at the Chicago Marathon. The Venezuelan finished 17 hours after he started.

His very life is a story of endurance. When Melamed was born, doctors thought he might live a week. For 38 years, he's been living with muscular dystrophy. As the last person to cross the 2013 Chicago Marathon finish line, he's proven those doctors very wrong.

"Because I can do it! That's the point. If you can do something, you discover you can do it, and then you have to do it," Melamed said.

Talking about it today, Melamed says this was actually his third marathon. He's already competed in Berlin and New York. But Chicago, he says, was the most challenging so far because the race organizers insisted he use the sidewalks, rather than the streets.

"We have to go up and down. It's not flat at all. My muscles were weakened in a way," Melamed.

One determined step after another, he pushed through his personal wall at mile 21, and said he never considered the option of quitting. His race continued through the afternoon, evening and into the night.

"We spread a message of human dignity, and a world can be constructed with teamwork," Melamed said.

Melamed runs with a team - a physical therapist, trainer, coach and volunteers who encourage him. He said the people of Chicago were amazing, and he believes he's a better human being for running the race, and invited all those who appear more able-bodied than he to run it, too.

"When you cross the finish line, you think, 'I can do anything in life,'" Melamed said.

Melamed wants to finish five major marathons. He plans to run in Tokyo in February. He also plans to run the Boston Marathon as a tribute to the 2013 bombing victims.

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