The Marathon Runner: Doroteo Guamuch Flores

by Efrain Nieves

In 490 B.C. Pheidippides, a Greek messenger, was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon.  After reaching Athens he approached the leaders and gasped, “Rejoice! We Conquer!” and then collapsed.  This event inspired the modern day Olympic marathon established in 1896, which in turn inspired the oldest annual running marathon, the Boston Marathon in 1897.

The history behind Boston Marathon winners is endless. Some of these winners will forever be remembered for their valiant determination to push the human body to the edge. One of those winners, Doroteo Guamuch Flores  also known as Mateo Flores, became the first Latino to win the 1952 Boston Marathon in 2 hours 31 minutes and 53 seconds.

Doroteo Guamuch Flores was born on February 11, 1922, in Cotió, Mixco, Guatemala. Flores also won the marathon at the Barranquilla Games in 1946, the 1950 Central American and Caribbean Games in Guatemala,  the marathon at the Pan American Games in 1955. He also participated in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

After winning the Boston Marathon Flores was honored by the Guatemalan government and  the national stadium was renamed  to Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores. He was also given the nation’s highest civilian honor called  the Order of the Quetzal. Unfortunately, the Guatemalan government did not use Flores’ indigenous name Doroteo Guamuch. This issue spawned an argument on the discrimination towards the indigenous people of Central America.

Pa’lante pays tribute to Flores and all the marathon runners from all walks of lives, color and creed that will run the Boston Marathon today. These athletes are the continuation of the determination and drive that Pheidippides showed so many centuries ago. Good luck to all runners.

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