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Man defies odds to finish the Boston marathon
01:06 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Maickel Melamed, who has muscular dystrophy, took part in the 2015 Boston Marathon

He completed the race 20 hours after the start

Despite rainy weather, fans and friends cheered for the 39-year-old

CNN  — 

About 20 hours after the Boston Marathon started Monday, many of the cheering crowds had dispersed and the streets were cleared. But one man, despite the odds against him, crossed the finish line.

Venezuelan native Maickel Melamed, who is battling muscular dystrophy, completed the 26.2 miles just before 5 a.m. Tuesday.

A group of energized fans rallied for the 39-year-old as he walked down Boylston Street in the pouring rain with volunteers from his foundation, Vamos. He was the last participant to complete the race, CNN affiliate WCVB-TV reported.

Friends who were waiting for Melamed to cross the finish line said the university professor and motivational speaker is dedicated and motivated.

“He wants to show that life is great, no matter how many problems you can have,” friend Perla Sananes said.

Melamed was born with muscular dystrophy, which causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass throughout the body. As the disease progresses, people with the condition have difficulty doing physical activities like running and walking.

Melamed has completed marathons in Chicago, New York, Berlin and Tokyo. Boston has a special place in his heart because his parents brought him to the city as a baby, WCVB-TV said.

His perseverance was celebrated by crowds at the marathon finish line Tuesday morning, and also by fans online.

Melamed is one of about 30,000 participants who raced in this year’s marathon, which comes less than two weeks after a jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 charges related to the 2013 Boston bombings.

On social media Monday, spectators cheered for runners and the city, calling the marathon a symbol of strength and unity.