Health condition doesn’t deter Miami half-marathon runner

Runners head northbound on Ocean Drive as they make their way back to Miami via Venetian Causeway. Several thousands of runners representing over 75 countries took to the streets of South Beach, downtown Miami, Brickell, Key Biscayne, and the Venetian Causeway during the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014.
Runners head northbound on Ocean Drive as they make their way back to Miami via Venetian Causeway. Several thousands of runners representing over 75 countries took to the streets of South Beach, downtown Miami, Brickell, Key Biscayne, and the Venetian Causeway during the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014.

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The first person to begin Sunday morning’s Life Time Miami Marathon and Half Marathon was who most people in the stands wanted to see at the end.

Maickel Melamed has hypotonia, a condition similar to muscular dystrophy, but that has not stopped him from completing marathons in Berlin, Chicago and New York. The 38-year-old completed the half marathon in a little less than seven hours and was met at the finish line by throngs of adoring fans. The Venezuelan posed for at least a dozen photographs before exiting the finishing corral.

“I’m really happy and proud of the city of Miami,” Melamed said. “It’s an amazing race, an amazing sporting event, and it’s an honor.”

Melamed runs to try to inspire other people to chase their dreams. He and his team wore shirts that said “Vamos” on them, the slogan, which means “let’s go,” is a call for people to not let anything stand in their way of reaching their goals.

Although he said he is appreciative of the support, he added there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure his message is heard.

“I’d rather celebrate the accomplishments of others,” he said. “We’re just doing our job. Our message isn’t fulfilled yet.”

Happy winner

Not much could wipe the gigantic smile from Ludovic Nacre’s face.

The 45-year-old won the men’s athletes with disabilities hand-cycle marathon with a time of 1 hour 14 minutes 14 seconds. It was his third win in a marathon after taking home the top prize in the Barcelona and Hamburg, Germany, marathons. Nacre is the French champion in the hand-crank wheelchair discipline.

He’s been in Miami for a week and said through a translator he loves the race and being in Miami in general. Before coming last week, his only vision of Miami came from television portrayals in series such as “Miami Vice’’ and “Dexter.’’

“I think it’s a dream,” Nacre said. “It’s the U.S. It’s Florida. It’s fantastic compared to other marathons.”

Jacqui Kapinowski won the women’s hand-cycle division for the third year in a row with a time of 1:40:17. It was the fourth consecutive win for the 51-year-old woman from Tequesta, after taking first in the push-rim division in 2011.

She said yes

Ari Wolf paced nervously in the finishing strait, waiting for his girlfriend to finish the half marathon. As the anticipation grew, he prepared his towel on the wet pavement and knelt down with a bouquet of roses in his hands.

When Rachel Avisrur finally crossed the finish line, 3 hours 42 minutes after she began, Wolf asked her to marry him. The New York native said yes after the initial shock wore off, marking a great end to her race day.

Darren Weissman, a Miami native better known as Doctor Dribble, broke his world record for fastest marathon while dribbling two basketballs with a time of 4:16:13. The record is pending official approval by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Josh Liebman, the vice mayor of South Miami, finished his 100th marathon Sunday in 5:26:40. He said his sister showed his father, who is in the hospital recovering from surgery for throat cancer, a video of him finishing the race and said it brought tears of pride to his father’s eyes.

Bryan Sharkey, a Miami financial advisor who collapsed of dehydration after winning the Palm Beaches Marathon in December, finished 16th in Sunday’s half marathon with a time of 1:17:45. He won the Tropical 5K on Saturday in 16 minutes 42 seconds.

Patty Cohen, whose husband was killed in a hit-and-run on the Rickenbacker Causeway nearly two years ago, finished the half marathon in 2:27:09.

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