Kurt Fearnley of Australia and Edith Hunkeler of Switzerland once again took the first place positions in the Men and Women’s Wheelchair Race respectively at the New York Marathon last week. Spectators cheered on all wheelchair racers throughout the very cold conditions in the big city, seeing their impressive finishing times despite the strong head winds and the uphill course.
Fearnley, winning his third straight New York Marathon, finished with a time of 1:44:51, more than a minute ahead of his two nearest competitors, Masazumi Soejima from Japan and Aaron Gordian from Mexico, who finished second and third respectively. Fearnley, who is usually known for his strength on the hills, took on a different strategy this year by advancing ahead during the flat section at mile eight. He later noted that weather was a major factor this year in New York for the change and the 15 minutes difference from his 2006 win.
In the Women’s Wheelchair Race, Edith Hunkeler, took off from the starting line and never looked back. The Swiss Paralympic marathon gold medallist finished first with a time of 2:06:42. Hunkeler also said that her victory was a difficult one because of the weather conditions. Diane Roy from Canada and Amanda McGrory from USA were even through the halfway point, with McGrory taking a slight lead thereafter, finishing second with a time of 2:11:25. Christie Dawes from Australia came in third, passing Roy between halfway and the finish line.
Edith Hunkeler and Kurt Fearnley were also gold medallist in the Women and Men’s Marathon at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. The two were most especially excited to once again demonstrate their elite performance in the event, even with the extra work it took this year in New York. The low temperatures cause the tires and the racers gloves to lose their grip, creating a stronger expense of energy. The two this year however fought off all odds and came out ahead.