CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Venezuelan man who suffers from a rare muscular condition – and whom doctors once said would never walk – finished his third marathon early Monday when he crossed the finish line nearly 17 hours after starting the Chicago Marathon.
Maickel Melamed was the final runner to cross the finish line around 1:30 a.m. Monday, clocking in at 16 hours and 46 minutes.
Melamed was born with hypotomia, a severe muscle-depleting condition that makes it hard from walking. During the first year of his life, doctors said he would never walk, but that hasn’t stopped him from completing three marathons.
He had several fans cheering him on during the final hours of his run, with many of them lining the 26.2-mile course and waving Venezuelan flags as he made his way to the finish line.
“We’re following him because we believe that this is almost an impossible thing to do," Leda Santo Domingo said. "In this moment, we have been following him, and we are worried, because we say, ‘How he can do it?’ He’s doing it because his mind is so strong, and he has in the heart a dream.”
Melamed was one of 45,000 people who ran the 36th annual Chicago Marathon on Sunday.
He has also run the New York and Berlin marathons and hopes to run the Tokyo and Boston marathons.
Melamed said he takes on these challenges to show young people all over the world anything is possible if you put your mind to it and dream big.
“He’s a survivor, and now he is a champion,” Santo Domingo said. “He’s doing this for everybody. It’s not just for him.”