“He Won The Race”

A reader points out that the caption on the picture of Stylianos Kyriakides posted earlier undersells “arguably the most significant Boston Marathon victory of all time”:

That’s the best you can do? I don’t think you could have understated Stylianos Kyriakides victory any more. Kyriakides’ victory in the Boston Marathon in 1946 changed the world.  There’s a very, very inspirational story behind the picture. Do you know what it is?

William Lambers summarizes Kyriakides’ achievement:

His mission was to bring attention to famine and suffering in his homeland. During World War II the German Army left Greece practically in ruins and short on food. Aid was desperately needed. April 1946 was a pivotal time in world history; hunger then was the World War II enemy that had yet to be defeated. …

For Kyriakides, the Boston Marathon offered an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the hunger in his homeland. He faced a tough challenge. There was the defending champion Johnny Kelley and other great runners to contend with. Kyriakides also had to overcome years of living in the harsh occupation conditions with below-average nutrition. His life had been spared by German troops because he was a marathoner and had competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Kyriakides overcame the odds, overcame the great Johnny Kelley, and sprinted to victory in the marathon. When he crossed the finish line he shouted “For Greece!” for he knew what this victory would mean in telling the world of his country’s plight. His mission was not over even after he crossed the finish line, though. Next was touring the country to raise donations for Greek relief.

For those interested in learning more about Kyriakides, the reader recommends Running With Pheidippides: Stylianos Kyriakides, the Miracle Marathoner, by Nick Tsiotos and Andy Dabilis.