NEW YORK, September 18, 2013 - A quartet of past champions Kurt Fearnley of Australia, Edith Wolf-Hunkeler of Switzerland, Ernst van Dyk of South Africa and returning men's champion, Masazumi Soejima of Japan will lead a powerhouse field of international stars at the ING New York City Marathon wheelchair race, it was announced today by NYRR officials. Also announced were Canadian star and marathon all-conditions world record-holder Josh Cassidy, 2013 Boston Marathon men's champion Hiroyuki Yamamoto of Japan and womens wheelchair pioneer Louise Sauvage of Australia.
They join a formidable lineup of previously announced USA contenders for the November 3 race, including reigning Boston and Virgin London champion Tatyana McFadden, London Paralympic marathon gold medalist Shirley Reilly and two-time New York City Marathon champion and course record-holder Amanda McGrory. On the men's side, Josh George, Ryan Chalmers and Adam Bleakney lead the USA contenders.
The ING New York City Marathon wheelchair race offers a total prize purse of $103,000 plus time bonuses, with $15,000 prizes for the men's and women's champions.
Athlete backgrounds and notable performances
Fearnley, 32, is a four-time New York champion who swept to consecutive victories in 2006 to 2009. His 2006 winning time of 1 hour, 29 minutes, and 22 seconds is still the course record. This year, Fearnley won his second Virgin London crown and finished fifth in Boston. The three-time Paralympian is the ambassador for the Day of Difference Foundation and International Day of People with a Disability. This will be his eighth appearance in New York.
Cassidy, 28, has won three of the four World Marathon Majors crowns in his career: Virgin London in 2010; Boston and Bank of America Chicago in 2012. This will be his sixth appearance in New York. He set the all-conditions world record of 1:18:25 in Boston in 2012. He was second in the Great North Run on September 15 with a time of 45:21. The holder of the Canadian national records for every distance from 1500m to the marathon, Cassidy is also a professional illustrator.
Soejima, 43, is the returning New York champion from 2011, when he became the first Japanese winner of any division of the New York City Marathon. His career best of 1:18:50, set in winning Boston in 2011, is the third-fastest time ever. Soey has thrived in NYC, with three more top-five finishes in addition to his win. He is also a five-time Tokyo Marathon winner.
Wolf-Hunkeler, 41, is the grande dame of New York, with a record five titles: 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009. She has set the New York course record twice and has won in Boston twice. Wolf-Hunkeler is the 2008 Beijing Paralympic marathon gold medalist. She has a young daughter, Elin.
Van Dyk, 40, has won a record nine Boston Marathon titles and was the 2005 New York winner. This year, he was runner-up in Boston and third at in London. His all-conditions world record was lowered by two seconds last year by Josh Cassidy in Boston. In 2006, Van Dyk was named the Laureus World Sports Awards Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability and has represented South Africa in every Paralympics since 1992.
Yamamoto, 47, won the 2013 Boston Marathon in 1:25:33 and came back a week later to finish eighth at the Virgin London Marathon.
Sauvage, 40, is an Australian national hero. She won two gold medals and a silver at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics. She has been honored many times in Australia for her athletic achievements, including four-time Australian Paralympian of the Year awards. Sauvage is a four-time Boston Marathon champion (1997-99, 2001); her battles with Jean Driscoll in Boston through the 1990s are legendary.
Nationally, the ING New York City Marathon will be presented on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes+ from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET. The race will also be available via WatchESPN for those who have video subscriptions from affiliated providers. Locally, New Yorkers can watch the race on ABC7 or 7online.com
NYRR's premier event, the ING New York City Marathon is the most loved and most inclusive marathon in the world, attracting elite athletes and recreational runners alike for the challenge and thrill of a lifetime. The race has grown tremendously since it began in 1970 with just 127 runners racing four laps of Central Park. Now, more than 48,000 participants from all over the globe flock to New York City every November for an adrenaline-filled road tour of all five boroughs, starting on Staten Island at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and ending in Central Park.