Controlled start an issue
Wheelchair competitors Hiroyuki Yamamoto, 46, of Japan, and Tatyana McFadden, 23, of Clarksville, Md., had never taken part in the Boston Marathon before. But they were welcomed across the finish line as winners.
Yamamoto took advantage of a botched controlled start to surge to a lead he would never relinquish, finishing in 1:25:32. Ernst Van Dyk, a nine-time Boston champion from South Africa, was runner-up while Kota Hokinoue of Japan, Yamamoto’s training partner, finished third in Boston for the third time.
“It’s a hill race, so I knew that I could tuck at some points, but I knew that I had to keep the lead,’’ Yamamoto said. “So I kept on pushing forward. Then towards the end, my wrist started cramping up, but I knew I had to push through to keep the lead.”
Van Dyk was caught up in a chaotic start when the lead vehicle stopped when several racers broke from the grid during the controlled start.
“Some guys, maybe they didn’t understand what was going on and were shooting from the outside and trying to pass the lead car,’’ Van Dyk said. “Guys were yelling and suddenly the lead vehicle stopped. Like, it stopped dead on the course and we can’t stop there. Then it let us go. The guys in front got away clean, but the guys in the second and third row, we were in a mess.’’
Van Dyk sharply criticized the controlled start, saying, “I think it’s time to think about safety and not tradition.’’
McFadden also was stymied by the controlled start of the women’s field, dropping to the back before she recovered and caught the lead pack after 12 miles. McFadden went on to win in 1:45:24, finishing ahead of runner-up Sandra Graf of Switzerland (1:46:54). McFadden’s training partner, Amanda McGrory of Champaign, Ill., came in third (1:49:19) despite getting knocked out of her chair by a crash.
“I just played to my strengths and focused,’’ McFadden said. “I focused on the roads, focused on the hills, and the downhills and really tried to play to my strengths and know my weaknesses of the race. And the crowd was amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better crowd today, especially at Heartbreak Hill.’’
The lead local
Timothy Ritchie, 25, of Brighton was the top New Englander in the field, finishing 23d in 2:21:31 . . . At 8:52 a.m., the Marathon observed a 26-second silence in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, minutes before the first racers left the start line in Hopkinton. The marker at Mile 26 had a Newtown, Conn., logo on it, again as a remembrance of the 26 who lost their lives.
Globe correspondent Barbara Matson contributed to this report. Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.