- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

BOSTON (AP) - His seven wins in the Boston Marathon men’s wheelchair race didn’t do much for Ernst Van Dyk’s confidence in his bid for a record eighth title on Monday.

Injuries at last year’s Paralympics and the arrival of a baby girl last fall severely cut his training time, leaving Van Dyk wondering what he had in him.

“This was the one year where I had the least confidence going into the race,” he said. “And even during the race, I didn’t feel as strong that I could keep up the pace.”

But he did, winning handily in 1 hour, 33 minutes and 29 seconds, more than three minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Japan’s Masazumi Soejima (1:36:57).

Van Dyk extended his own record for victories in the men’s wheelchair division and matched women’s wheelchair racer Jean Driscoll’s record for most all-categories Boston Marathon victories.

“This is an amazing event and has so much history over the years and to become part of that history is a real honor,” he said.

The 36-year-old Van Dyk said he’ll take at least one more shot at a ninth victory and sole claim on the marathon’s win record.

“It would mean a lot to own this race and be the guy that won it the most times,” he said.

Van Dyk has won eight of the last nine men’s wheelchair Boston Marathons, his only loss during the streak coming in 2007, to Soejima. He set the course record of 1:18:27 in 2004. His easy victory Monday was also the slowest of his eight wins, with his previous slowest time 1:28:32.

A brutal head wind was tough on all competitors and had Soejima vowing to gain weight before next year’s race to better fight the April elements against the heavier Van Dyk.

Slower or not, the win continued Van Dyk’s dominance, something he didn’t imagine was possible after his first Boston Marathon victory in 2001.

“I thought I won (in 2001) because no one expected me to go out so hard,” he said. “It’s worked for me eight times now.”

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