Álvaro Mejía (athlete)

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This name uses Spanish naming customs; the first or paternal family name is Mejía and the second or maternal family name is Florez.
Álvaro Mejía (athlete)
Personal information
Born May 15, 1940

Álvaro Mejía Florez (born May 15, 1940 in Medellín, Antioquia) is a former long-distance runner from Colombia, who became a national hero after competing in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games 5,000 meter final.

Mejía competed in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics in the 10,000 meters, where he placed tenth, and in the 1972 Munich Olympics, where he ran the marathon. Mejía also won the 1971 Boston Marathon in two hours, eighteen minutes and 45 seconds.

1971 Boston Marathon winner[edit]

In 1971, the 75th edition of the Boston Marathon had one of the closest finishes ever, as Mejía dueled almost the entire way with Pat McMahon, a native of Ireland and local Massachusetts resident. Mejía finally pulled away from McMahon less than 150 yards from the finish, clocking 2:18:45, just five seconds ahead of McMahon. During the turn off of Commonwealth Ave, McMahon was shot into the crowd. The Race Director swore that Mejía had elbowed McMahon while running his way to the five second win.

Coming to America[edit]

Mejía was married to Terri Stickles, the American bronze medalist in the 400 meter freestyle swim in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Stickles brought Mejía to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1969. They met in Cali, Colombia, where Terri was a Peace Corps volunteer.

From 1969 until 1985, Mejía dispensed running advice along with running shoes and apparel at a sporting goods store ("Olympic Sports") he owned with Stickles in San Mateo, California. During the 1970s, he competed as a member of the local West Valley Track Club (WVTC), at a time when the club often dominated team competition in Northern California. Several Colombian runners followed Mejía to train in Northern California and compete alongside Mejia for WVTC, including Víctor Mora, who placed second in the 1972 Boston Marathon. Mejia has one son, Christopher Mejia, born in 1971 (lives in San Francisco).


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Colombia
1961 Bolivarian Games Barranquilla, Colombia 2nd 800 m 1:55.5
2nd 1500 m 4:02.7
1965 Bolivarian Games Quito, Ecuador 1st 1500 m 3:57.2 A
1st 5000 m 15:00.9 A
1st 10,000 m 32:22.5 A
1971 Boston Marathon Boston, United States 1st Marathon 2:18:45


Mejía remains active in the running community, coaching Colombian athletes including Alirio Carrasco, of Bogotá, who ran 2:12:09 at the Chicago Marathon in 2003.


External links[edit]