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After 20 Hours, Mobility-Impaired Man Finishes Boston Marathon At 5 AM

Maickel Melamed, of Venezuela, speaks during a ceremony to honor him as the last participant to finish this year's Boston Marathon. (Bill Sikes/AP)

Maickel Melamed, of Venezuela, speaks during a ceremony to honor him as the last participant to finish this year’s Boston Marathon. (Bill Sikes/AP)

The last athlete to complete the 2015 Boston Marathon has received his race medal.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, left, and Mayor Marty Walsh listen as Maickel Melamed, of Venezuela, speaks during a ceremony to honor him. (Bill Sikes/AP)

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, left, and Mayor Marty Walsh listen to Melamed. (Bill Sikes/AP)

Maickel Melamed was bestowed his award by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at City Hall on Tuesday, after completing the 26.2-mile course in about 20 hours.

The 39-year-old Venezuelan, who says he has a form of muscular dystrophy that severely impairs his mobility, crossed the finish line around 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Melamed and his team of volunteers endured torrential downpours, thunderstorms, biting wind and cold for the last few miles. They were greeted at the finish line by dozens of supporters.

Melamed said he completed the marathon — his fourth — to show that love is stronger than death.

He praised Boston for embracing his efforts.

Walsh called Melamed’s story “truly one of inspiration.”

This post was updated at 4:30 p.m.

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Blankets And Broth: Hypothermia The Main Medical Issue At 2015 Boston Marathon

Lauri Perry, of Austin, Texas, is used to getting really hot when she runs. She thought she was being cautious ahead of Monday’s Boston Marathon, when she added a layer over her running top.

“I started out with something on and I threw it away at mile six because it was warmer. Then the rain started at about mile 10 or so, and then the wind got worse,” Perry said, her voice trailing off.

By the time Perry crossed the finish line on Boylston Street she was soaking wet, numb, blue and shaking.

“Uncontrollable shaking,” Perry repeated with emphasis. “I couldn’t even hold my drink because it was splashing out.”

Lauri Perry, of Austin, Texas, went into the medical tent to warm up after finishing the Boston Marathon Monday. (Martha Bebinger/WBUR)

Lauri Perry, of Austin, Texas, went into the medical tent to warm up after finishing the Boston Marathon Monday. (Martha Bebinger/WBUR)

Perry has run the Boston Marathon five times and notes with some pride that she has never needed medical assistance after the race. But Monday, when a member of the medical team asked if she wanted to step inside the big white tent, she gave in.

“I would normally say no,” Perry said, looking disappointed. “I’m a pretty strong person but I knew that I would not be able to walk all the way back to my hotel in the condition I was in.”

Perry and hundreds of runners on Monday fell victim to hypothermia, a condition where despite a runner’s hyper-exertion, their body temperature drops dangerously low. Inside a medical tent at the finish line, Perry peeled off her wet clothes and shoes and sat wrapped in multiple Mylar and cotton blankets, drinking warm fluids. But some runners needed more active warming.

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This Blind Man Climbs Every Mountain, And Now Has Run The Boston Marathon

Randy Pierce with his guide dog, Autumn, at WBUR (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Randy Pierce with his guide dog, Autumn, at WBUR (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Note: This post has been updated.

In 1989, Randy Pierce was fresh out of college, living in southern New Hampshire and working happily as a computer hardware designer. One day in fencing class, his instructor noticed that his blind spot was oddly enlarged. You need to go to the doctor, the instructor said. Today.

A neurological disease was attacking Pierce’s optic nerve. Within two weeks he had lost all the sight in his right eye, and half the sight in his left. In the following years, he lost the last remnants of his sight, and damage to his cerebellum destroyed his balance, landing him in a wheelchair.

On Monday, he ran the Boston Marathon. And he turned in a personal marathon best: 3 hours, 50 minutes and 37 seconds for the 26.2-mile course.

Pierce, 48, ran on Team With A Vision, which supports the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He ran to raise money — and to make a point, about what he calls “ability awareness.”

“I have a disability — I can’t see,” he says. “We all have disabilities, things that we can’t do. I think it’s so much more important to put the focus of our lives on things we can do. And if something is important enough to you, I say anything is possible, you’re just going to have to problem-solve and persevere to get there.”

An example of problem-solving: Last year, Pierce became the first blind American to complete a Tough Mudder obstacle course, and last month he repeated the feat. (See the video below.)

From a platform 25 feet high, he had to leap out about 8 feet, grab a T-shaped, trapeze-like bar, swing farther out and release his grip at just the right moment to hit a remote hanging bell before plunging down into the muddy water below. He used his cane to feel for where the T-bar was, to form a mental image of it, and friends’ descriptions of where the bell was hanging.

The crowd went wild.

“You know, those are just moments — every one of those people out there would have told you this is impossible. Now they won’t,” Pierce says. “They’ll believe me when I say everything’s possible — or they’ll believe in themselves, which is the more important part.”

As for the perseverance Pierce talks about, he used it to fight his way out of the wheelchair that he occupied “for one year, eight months and 21 days — which tells you how I feel about it. Pretty challenging.”

Pierce’s wife, Tracy, says that somehow, his struggles and losses led him to adopt the supremely positive attitude that uplifts him now. Continue reading

Time The Healer Moves Slowly For 2 Boston Marathon Survivors

Marathon bombing survivor Martha Galvis is learning to use a hand doctors are still reconstructing. Here Galvis attempts to pick up a pen off a table after a physical therapy session at Faulkner Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Marathon bombing survivor Martha Galvis is learning to use a hand doctors are still reconstructing. Here Galvis attempts to pick up a pen off a table after a physical therapy session at Faulkner Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

It’s just the crumb of a muffin, but Martha Galvis must pick it up. Lips clenched, eyes narrowed, she goes after the morsel, pushing it back and forth, then in circles, across a slick tabletop.

“I struggle and struggle until,” Galvis pauses, concentrating all her attention on the thumb and middle finger of her left hand. She can’t get them to close. Oh well.

“I try as much as I can. And if I do it I’m so happy, so happy,” she says, giggling.

Galvis, 62, has just finished a session of physical therapy at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, where she goes twice a week. She’s learning to use a hand doctors are still reconstructing. It’s been two years to the day since she almost lost it.

On April 15, 2013, Martha and her husband Alvaro Galvis headed for Cleveland Circle — mile 22 on the Boston Marathon route. This would be the first of three spots from which they’d enjoy the race and the boisterous crowd. Their last stop would be at or near the finish line in Boston. Continue reading