After a hectic last two years on the global marathon circuit, Ernst van Dyk says it’s time to put his feet up and enjoy a break.
Van Dyk took second place in the men’s wheelchair race at the New York Marathon on Sunday, narrowly missing out on a second career victory in the Big Apple: “This was my eighth podium finish in 24 months in major marathons. I would have liked to end the year on a high with a win, but it’s been an amazing year and I need some down time now to recover and rebuild.”
The 41-year-old South African was dropped by the lead group with 15km remaining in the 42km race, slipping to seventh position as he struggled to maintain the pace in windy conditions. But Van Dyk dug deep and, using all his experience from riding in windy conditions in the Argus year after year, he slowly picked up the other competitors as he made his way back through the field.
He chased down the leaders, Kurt Fearnley of Australia and Tomasz Hamerlak of Poland, and took the lead shortly before the finish. However, Fearnley surged ahead in the final sprint to clinch victory by one second.
“That was honestly the hardest race of my life,” Van Dyk said afterwards. Quite a mouthful, considering Van Dyk has been a top international competitor for over two decades.
A 10-time Boston Marathon winner and seven-time Paralympic medallist, Van Dyk is the only athlete with a disability among the final nominees for the SA Sports Star of the Year accolade at next month’s SA Sports Awards. You can vote for him by texting the words ‘SPORTS A’ to 34760.