Ernst Van Dyk, who over the last decade has dominated the men's wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon, became the winningest Boston Marathon competitor of all time -- in any division -- after he captured his record ninth title, winning today's 114th running in 1 hour 26 minutes 53 seconds.
"The fact that it's No. 9 is a bonus, but I never thought of starting to count the wins in Boston," Van Dyk said. "I just wanted to do my best every time in the race and be in the money and go for the trophy. Whether it's No. 9, No. 8 or No. 17, it doesn't matter to me, but now that it is No. 9 and I'm the only person in the history of this race to win No. 9, I think it's an honor and I need to appreciate what it is."
But the ninth one was far from a breezy cruise from Hopkinton Green to Boylston Street.
"It was the hardest ever, to have to fight all the way to the end, instead of finishing at a pace that was comfortable,'' Van Dyk said. "It was a battle."
Van Dyk, 37, of Paarl, South Africa, took an early lead but was challenged late by runner-up Krige Schabort, a fellow South African who resides in Cedartown, Ga. Schabort held a slight lead as he turned onto Boylston for the final stretch, but Van Dyk put on a dramatic finishing kick and overtook Schabort with 400 meters to go to the finish.
"These guys were tough on me," Van Dyk said. "I broke early and got a lead like I always do, before the halfway mark, they caught up to me. It was like a train. It was five of them working together and they just reeled me in."
Schabort, a seven-time runner up in Boston, finished second in 1:26:56.
Kota Hokinoue of Japan finished third in 1:27:04.
Van Dyk has dominated the division over the last decade, winning from 2001-2006 before Masazumi Soejima of Fukoka, Japan, broke his streak with a win in 2007 (1:29.16). Van Dyk, who set the Boston Marathon course record in 2004 (1:18:27), has now won the last three consecutive wheelchair events and nine of the last 10, surpassing legendary wheelchair champion Jean Driscoll as the winningest Boston Marathon competitor.
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
- Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
- Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes