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VanDyk storms to second crown

Hunkeler claims first women's title

By Bob Monahan, Globe Correspondent, 4/16/2002


Men  |  Women  |  Wheelchairs  |


Women: Okayo KOs course in debut
Men: Rop puts Kenyans back on top
Runner-up: Ndereba is still first-rate
Ryan: Their absence didn't last long
US runners: Support not there
Beardsley: He returns for more fun
Masters: At 43, Kipkemboi in prime
Wheelchairs: VanDyk wins again
Notebook: Runners kept their cool
The start: Meeting first challenge
First-person: To end, the hard way
Heartbreak Hill: Over the top
SporTView: Coverage lagged
Faces in pack: Miles of smiles


Memorable moments
During the race
Before the race
Sunday pasta party
Sports & Fitness Expo

South African Ernst VanDyk - leaving his competition in another zip code - defended his wheelchair title in the Boston Marathon yesterday in fine fashion. The women's crown went to Edith Hunkeler of Switzerland.

VanDyk won in a breeze while the 29-year-old Hunkeler, who last year finished four seconds behind winner Louise Sauvage, prevailed ahead of Christina Ripp of Urbana, Ill., and Japan's Wakako Tsuchida.

VanDyk was clocked in 1 hour 23 minutes 19 seconds, followed by South Africa's Krige Schabort (1:26:04) and four-time Boston champion Franz Nietlispach (1:30:08) of Switzerland.

Hunkeler finished in 1:45:57, followed by Ripp (1:49:32) and Tsuchida (1:50:09). The middle portion of their race was bitterly contested.

''I was some eight minutes faster than a year ago and the reason is that I was pushed most of the way,'' said Hunkeler. ''There was no way I could relax at all.''

VanDyk, 29, took command from the get-go, leading from the 1-kilometer mark.

Last year, VanDyk registered a 1:25:12 - a personal best - to win by more than six minutes. Yesterday, he was two minutes faster, but shy of Heinz Frei's course record of 1:21:23, set in 1994.

''You need a perfect race and perfect conditions to break the record,'' said VanDyk.

VanDyk's first Boston appearance was in 1999, when he placed eighth. He has improved greatly since and last month won the Los Angeles Marathon in 1:28:44, bettering his 2001 time of 1:33:14, which earned him second place. He also served notice of his talents last year when he set world records at 400 and 800 meters, and 10K and 25K.

''I trained harder than a year ago and I'll have to train even harder to break the record,'' said VanDyk, who has the shoulders of an NFL linebacker. ''I feel it can be done.''

The elite wheelchair men were disappointed with yesterday's weather.

''We were promised some sun and a tailwind and we didn't get them,'' said VanDyk. ''It was cloudy and we had the wind in our faces. Overall, it was sort of tough.

''I love racing here. The fans were great and I felt good. Now I'd like to get better and post a better time next year. Yes, try for the record.''

Said Schabort, ''My time was a personal best and I'm really happy. The breeze coming into our faces slowed us down a bit. The course was pretty good, although some surfaces were not great.''

''I had a hard time keeping up with them,'' said the 44-year-old Nietlispach, who was second to VanDyk a year ago. ''I knew quickly I'd never have a chance to catch Ernst. He's a good competitor. I'm not sure if I ever can catch him.

''What was really nice was the fans. I really enjoyed the crowd and enjoyed waving to them.

''Looking back, Ernst was better than I uphill and downhill, and maybe I'll never catch him.''

Hunkeler couldn't have been more pleased with her first Boston victory.

''It was an emotional race for me and I have a great feeling,'' she said. ''I did better both uphill and downwhill and I can attribute that to things I learned from Louise last year.

''What I also loved was the crowd chanting, `Edith, Edith, Edith,' going up Heartbreak Hill. That was very nice and again emotional. Down deep, Christina and Wakako did push me, and I never felt comfortable until the race was over.''

Ripp, who also is a wheelchair basketball player, considers eight-time Boston winner Jean Driscoll, who also hails from Illinois, her idol.

''The course was a huge challenge,'' said Ripp, ''and when I saw Heartbreak Hill, I wondered, `How am I going to get up there?'''

Tsuchida, the first professional wheelchair athlete in Japanese history, said, ''I feel honored to be here. Heartbreak Hill? It was fun for me. I enjoyed my Boston experience and I want to return next year.''

This story ran on page D6 of the Boston Globe on 4/16/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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