Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Van Dyk right on the mark

South African Ernst Van Dyk, 31, had a goal when he started the men's wheelchair race yesterday. He attained it with ease. He also reached another goal, one he could only have dreamed of: setting a course record.

Van Dyk won his division for the fourth consecutive year to equal Franz Nietlispach's Boston winning streak from 1997 to 2000. Van Dyk posted a time of 1 hour 18 minutes 27 seconds to top Heinz Frei's mark (1:21:23) set in 1994. Second-place finisher Joel Jeannot, 38, of France, finished in 1:21:08, and Nietlispach was third in 1:23:07.

Van Dyk took command from the get-go and the outcome was never in doubt as he looked stronger at every checkpoint.

His work ethic of training seven days a week for almost four hours a day paid dividends. Van Dyk was on record pace from 3 miles to the finish, outstanding racing in the heat (83 degrees at the start in Hopkinton).

"Tying [Nietlispach's] streak was my immediate goal," said Van Dyk. "I worked very hard to attain that goal and I just feel great. Franz is one of the all-time great racers, and tying his mark is like a dream come true. Now I'd like to return here next year and try for five in a row."

Van Dyk looked at Jeannot and said, "Joel is a great athlete and many times I felt I would have to break the record to stay ahead of him. Joel raced a very strong race and at the halfway mark I knew I would have to break the record to stay ahead of him. So I refocused.

"I didn't mind the hot weather at all. When I'm home in South Africa, I practice in 100-degree weather."

Nietlispach said, "Ernst is much better than I am. I'm older now [46]. I feel good with my third-place finish. Actually I'm pleased, because I did not do much chair racing the past eight months. I did mostly handcycle racing. I feel this race belongs to Ernst now. He's a great athlete." Jeannot said, "I'm upbeat and felt I had a good race. But Ernst raced well and was strong."

Van Dyk might dominate the wheelchair division for a few years. "I love this race," he said. "I always race against the best people in the world here and that's rewarding. I love the way all the fans cheered along the course. In some races there are no fans. As far as I'm concerned, this is the granddaddy of all marathon races."

Today from the Globe
Marathon galleries
Race Results
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives