Boston Marathon Champion Gives Medal To City

Lelisa Desisa, right, gave his winner's medal to the city of Boston in a sign of respect and honor. Photo: www.photorun.net

Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia presented his medal to Secretary of State John Kerry.

(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission. 

In a ceremony Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2013 Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa gave his winner’s medal to the city of Boston in a sign of respect and honor. Desisa, 23, presented the medal to former Massachusetts Senator and current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

According to CBS News, Desisa said that “sport should be a pleasure and never a battlefield.”

Desisa’s win at the 117th Boston Marathon was overshadowed by a pair of terrorist bombs that exploded along the finishing stretch of the historic race, killing three and injuring more than 200. Desisa completed the Hopkinton-to-Boston race in 2:10:22.

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Also honored at the ceremony was Ethiopian women’s runner-up Meseret Hailu and men’s third place finisher Gebre Gebremariam.

“In a sign of solidarity, these runners have come here today to pay their respects to Boston, to the injured, and to the marathon itself, and I am so honored that Lelisa has decided he is going to give his winner’s medal to the city of Boston,” Kerry said at a press conference yesterday in Addis Ababa, portions of which were broadcast by WHDH, the NBC affiliate in Boston. The winner’s medal is annually engraved with a special diamond, distinguishing it from other medals.

On the same day that Desisa presented his medal to Kerry, thousands of runners turned out in Boston to complete the final mile of the race from Kenmore to Copley Square.

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Local running clubs organized the special, non-competitive run to allow participants — and runners who simply wanted to show their support — to run the final mile. Thousands of marathon runners were unable to complete the mile during the Boston Marathon due to the bombings.

“I was very happy, and I had to walk it this time, but I was able to finish, so that’s good,” Allison Byrne told WHDH. According to the station, Byrne was stopped short of the finish line and was injured from the bombings 40 days ago.

The 118th Boston Marathon, annually run on Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, will return on Monday, April 21, 2014. The Boston Athletic Association, organizers of the Boston Marathon, have announced that they will allow runners who were unable to finish to return to Boston for next year’s race.

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