Boston Marathon rookies Yamamoto and McFadden race to commanding wins in wheelchair division
Story by Jean Cann
Both competing for the first time in the Boston Marathon this year, Hiroyuki Yamamoto (JPN) and Tatyana McFadden (USA) won the men’s and women’s wheelchair divisions. The Boston rookies employed very different but equally successful tactics in their commanding wins over large and talented fields that included numerous past Boston Marathon champions and Paralympic Games medalists.
Yamamoto, 46, started in the lead pack and moved ahead of the rest of the leaders around 5K. His risk paid off as he finished first in 1:25:32, 1:40 ahead of his nearest challenger, nine-time Boston champion, South African Ernst Van Dyk. Runner-up Van Dyk nipped Kota Hokinoue at the line (1:27:12 to 1:27:13) to push the Japanese racer into third—his 3rd career third place finish at Boston. Paralympic silver medalist Marcel Hug of Switzerland held off a hard-charging Kurt Fearnley, the Paralympic bronze medalist, for fourth, 1:28:19 to 1:28:26. Fearnley, of Australia, had finished second at Boston last year to Joshua Cassidy’s world-best performance. Two-time Boston champion Masazumi Soejima (JPN) took sixth. A pack with Denis Lemeunier (FRA), Jorge “Jordi” Madera (ESP) and Cassidy (CAN) took seventh through ninth, with Poland’s Tomasz Hamerlak taking the final spot in the top 10.
In the women’s race, Tatyana McFadden, 23, got a slower start on the early downhills than the lead pack and stayed about 30 seconds behind Sandra Graf (SUI), Christie Dawes (AUS), Diane Roy (CAN) and defending champion, Shirley Reilly (USA). Though less experienced at the marathon than many of her competitors, McFadden has won the Chicago Marathon twice and New York once and has a wealth of international racing experience at shorter distances—she won three gold medals at the London Paralympics, in the 400m, 800m and 1500m. When gapped by the pack at Boston this year, McFadden kept a steady pace and caught the group by 20K. By the halfway point, she and Graf had separated themselves from the pack. McFadden hit the hills hard and had pulled 40 seconds ahead of Graf by 18 miles. She continued to increase her lead to the finish, breaking the tape at 1:45:25, a minute-and-a-half ahead of Graf, who stayed well ahead of the rest of the field. Graf, the Paralympic marathon bronze medalist, had finished third at Boston three times before this year’s runner-up finish. American Amanda McGrory, who passed the early leaders in the Newton hills, took third in 1:49:19, her best time on the Boston course by eight minutes. Reilly, the Paralympic marathon gold medalist, and Dawes finished together (1:52:19 to 1:52:20) in fourth and fifth. McFadden’s University of Illinois teammate, Susannah Scaroni, finished sixth in 1:53:28, while Roy took seventh in 1:59:37.