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Doroteo Flores, at 89; won Boston Marathon in 1952

By Michael Grossi
Globe Correspondent / August 13, 2011

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Doroteo Guamuch Flores, the first Latin American runner to win the Boston Marathon, died of natural causes Thursday in his hometown of Mixco, Guatemala. He was 89.

Mr. Flores won the 1952 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:31:53, nearly five minutes faster than the next finisher.

“We regret the news we recently received on the passing of Mr. Doroteo Flores,’’ Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, said in an e-mail. “We experience a sense of deep loss whenever a Boston Marathon champion passes because a victory at Boston immediately brings an individual into our family of champions, all of whom share the distinction and who become ambassadors for our event wherever their careers and personal lives take them.’’

When the American press tried to relay information on Mr. Flores’s victory, they could not make out his first name, so they nicknamed him Mateo. The nickname stuck and the national stadium in Guatemala is adorned with it.

“The victory by Mr. Flores at the Boston Marathon elevated his status in his home country, and he became an inspiration to generations of runners in Guatemala,’’ Grilk said.

The last time Mr. Flores was in Boston was in 2005 when the BAA celebrated his momentous victory.

“Mr. Flores returned to Boston on the occasion of the Boston Marathon several times,’’ Grilk said.

“He was met with acclaim from his fellow Boston Marathon champions when he was last here.’’

Along with the victory in the Boston Marathon, Mr. Flores also won the half-marathon at the 1946 Barranquilla Games, the 1950 Central American and Caribbean Games, and the marathon at the 1955 Pan-American Games.

Mr. Flores also participated in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, where he finished 22d in the marathon.

Mr. Flores was also awarded Guatemala’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Quetzal.

Born on Feb. 11, 1922, Mr. Flores worked eight hours a day in a cotton mill, earning 25 cents per day, before he broke into the national spotlight as a long distance runner.

Mr. Flores also worked as a caddy.

There was a memorial for Mr. Flores at the Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores yesterday and there will be another today at the city hall in Mixco.

Mr. Flores will be buried in the public cemetery in Mixco after the memorial at city hall. The Guatemalan government has declared a three-day mourning period.

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