The best of the best wheelchair racers in the world will descend on New York City on 6 November, for the TCS New York City Marathon, including the USA’s 17-time Paralympic medallist Tatyana McFadden and South Africa’s eight-time Paralympic medallist Ernst van Dyk – both looking to defend their titles on the 26.2-mile course – announced Peter Ciaccia, president of events for New York Road Runners and race director of the TCS New York City Marathon.
McFadden, racing as an New York Road Runners (NYRR) Team for Kids Ambassador, will go for her fourth consecutive and fifth overall title on the five-borough course, while van Dyk will go for his second consecutive and third overall title in a professional wheelchair athlete field that includes 25 Paralympians, seven of whom won a combined 19 medals – seven of those gold – at the Rio 2016 Games.
“We are very excited to have racing sensations Tatyana and Ernst return to defend their TCS New York City Marathon titles as part of an absolutely fantastic field,” said Ciaccia. “Our professional wheelchair athlete field truly represents the cream of the crop in para-sport this year, with many of these athletes coming off phenomenal, Paralympic-record breaking performances at the Rio 2016 Games. Having Tatyana also support and donate a racing chair to our newly launched NYRR Youth Wheelchair Racing programme is a true testament to how she is inspiring the next generation as an NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador.”
McFadden, 27, is coming off a spectacular six-medal Paralympic performance in Rio, including gold medals in the 400, 800, 1,500, and 5000m T54 events. It was the most medals for a US track and field athlete at a single Paralympics since 1992. McFadden lowered the New York City Marathon event record last year by seven minutes and 20 seconds with a time of 1:43:04, which helped her complete an unprecedented third-straight Grand Slam sweep of the London, Boston, Chicago, and New York City marathons in a single year. Already this year, she has won both the Boston Marathon and London Marathon and finished second in the Paralympic marathon to vault herself to the top of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Wheelchair standings with 66 points.
“I am so excited to return to New York City and race again as an NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador to help inspire the next generation of racing greats,” McFadden said. “Another TCS New York City Marathon title would be the perfect way to cap off what has been an amazing year, and to finish my season with a win in my home country would make it even sweeter.”
Fresh off her winning performances in Rio, McFadden attended PS 333, Manhattan School for Children, on Tuesday (20 September) to help lead an NYRR Youth Wheelchair Racing Clinic and donate a racing chair to NYRR’s Youth Wheelchair Racing programme. Twenty-five NYRR Mighty Milers – both able-bodied and students with impairments– took part in the clinic, which will highlight NYRR’s first-ever and free youth wheelchair programme launched in early September.
The program invites youth with impairments aged 7-21 to learn the fundamentals of wheelchair racing and try it out at Icahn Stadium in New York City. Schools, community centres, and organisations throughout New York City’s five boroughs are also encouraged to host NYRR Wheelchair Racing Clinics.
Van Dyk, 43, of South Africa, won the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon – by one second – in 1:30:54, the second-fastest time in event history. He is the two-time defending champion in the United Airlines NYC Half, having lowered the course record in 2015 to 48:54 before topping that this season with a time of 45:39. In addition to competing in the Rio 2016 Paralympic marathon, he won gold at the Paralympics last week in handcycling. He has represented South Africa at every Paralympics since 1992 and has won the Boston Marathon a record 10 times, including six consecutive victories from 2001-2006.
“I’m really excited to be returning to New York City to defend my title,” van Dyk said. “New York City remains one of my favorite marathons because of the many ways in which the course challenges us as racers. The added twist of the Abbott World Marathon Majors this year makes it very exciting with all of us fighting for points as the series is nearing its conclusion.”
The 2016 TCS New York City Marathon prize purse for the wheelchair division totals EUR 92,329 (USD 103,000) plus time bonuses, one of the world’s largest marathon wheelchair division prize purses. The men’s and women’s wheelchair winners will each receive $15,000, with the top eight men and women earning part of the total prize purse.