Mark Plaatjes was the marathon champion at the 1993 World Championships in Athletics in Stuttgart. Born in South Africa under apartheid, Mark won two national titles at the marathon and two at cross-country. He ran a personal best marathon of 2:08:58 in 1985 in Port Elizabeth, but was unable to compete outside South Africa, barred from the 1984 and 1988 Olympic games due to the international boycott of South Africa. He sought political asylum in the United States in 1988. In 1993, Mark finished 6th in the Boston Marathon, qualifying for the U.S. team at the World Championships. In the greatest success of his career, Mark stole the lead in the last three minutes of the race at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart with a time of 2:13:57, becoming the first American to win a gold medal in a long-distance event at World Championships. Mark is the winner of 38 marathons worldwide and has made his home in Boulder, Colorado, where he is a coach, physical therapist, and the owner of Boulder Running Company.