Japan Riding High in Men's, Women's Wheelchair Division

Today Is: February 13th 2016
18 APR 2011
Tsuchida, Soejima capture wheelchair crowns in 115th Boston Marathon

Though the spotlight shone most brightly on Geoffrey Mutai and those who chased him across the line, the three-man sprint to the finish in the men’s wheelchair race could never be overlooked. With South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk going for his 10th Boston win, there was all kinds of emotion, not to mention a $15,000 first place prize, on the line.

Sentimentality meant little to Kurt Fearnley (AUS) and Masazumi Soejima (JPN), who chased down the defending champ at 30K and engaged him in an epic tussle all the way down Boylston Street to the line. Passing beneath the clock, a single second separated all three; but, it was Soejima who took the crown (1:18:50), with Fearnley taking second in 1:18:51 and Van Dyk third on the same time.

Commented the winner, “At the end, I was thinking that until my hands start bleeding or my heart stops I wasn’t going to stop.”

If one were looking for a quote to encapsulate the spirit of the day, that may be it. An inspiring sentiment on a day when inspiring performances were the norm.

Leading from wire to wire, four-time defending wheelchair champion Wakako Tsuchida of Japan made it five in a row when she crushed the field, setting a world record with her winning time of 1:30:21.

“I definitely didn’t want to look back once,” said the 36-year-old, who was competing here for the seventh time and has become a favorite with her ever-present smile.

Helped along by a tailwind, Tsuchida’s mark broke the previous world record of Jean Driscoll, 1:34:22, set on this course in 1994. It’s been quite a racing stretch for the Japanese superstar, who won marathons in London, Berlin and Honolulu last year. But it’s also been a time of sorrow as her nation copes with the tragedy of the recent earthquake and tsunami, and Tsuchida said even before the race that she hoped her performance could bring the country some joy.

“For most of the race, the wind was behind us,” said runner-up Shirley Reilly, who attends the University of Arizona and finished in 1:41:01. “Wakako obviously tore it up!” The third-place finisher, American Christina Ripp, agreed. “At one point I looked at Shirley and said, ‘Wakako’s fast. I haven’t seen her since the start.’’’


B.A.A. Moment 1

1920 - Ashland Start

The Boston Marathon began in Ashland, Massachusetts from 1897 through 1923 then moved to Hopkinton for the 1924 race. The course was lengthened to 26 miles, 385 yards to conform to the Olympic standard, and the starting line was moved west from Ashland to Hopkinton. Since then, the race has started in Hopkinton every year.