FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
World's Fastest Wheelchair Athletes to Face Off
at the ING New York City Marathon 2009
Reigning ING New York City Marathon wheelchair division
champions Kurt Fearnley and Edith Hunkeler to compete
New York, October 13, 2009—The world's best wheelchair athletes, including
six former ING New York City Marathon champions, will compete in the ING
New York City Marathon 2009 on Sunday, November 1, it was announced today
by New York Road Runners president and CEO and race director Mary
The athletes are three-time defending champion Kurt Fearnley of Australia,
four-time defending title-holder Edith Hunkeler of Switzerland, and past
champions Krige Schabort of South Africa, Saul Mendoza of Mexico, Ernst Van
Dyk of South Africa, and Amanda McGrory of Kennett Square, PA.
"Our wheelchair field gets deeper and more competitive each year, and this
year is no exception," said Bob Laufer, the marathon's wheelchair race
coordinator. "Just about every top racer in the world is here, on both the
men's and women's sides. It should be quite a show."
The ING New York City Marathon first featured an official wheelchair race
in 2000, and added prize money in 2001. A total guaranteed wheelchair
division prize purse of $65,000 will be awarded, the largest in race
history. The men's and women's champions will each receive $12,000.
Fearnley, 28, set the course record in 2006, when he pushed to a 1:29:22.
He won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 11 in 1:29:09 and
has also won marathon titles in London and Paris this year. Fearnley will
be seeking his fourth consecutive marathon victory in New York.
"New York is the biggest race of the year for me," said Fearnley. "It's a
very challenging course. Everyone who could possibly win the race will be
there this year. So, I am particularly looking forward to racing in New
In the women's field, all eyes will be on Switzerland's Edith Hunkeler, 37,
the four-time champion (2004, '05, '07, '08) and event record-holder
(1:52:38). Last year Hunkeler won in 2:06:42—her slowest time in New York,
due to fierce winds. The victory came just six weeks after her triumph at
the 2008 Beijing Paralympic marathon, where she pushed to a 1:39:59.
"I purposely did not race too much this year in the U.S., in order to
achieve two goals—winning the Peachtree 10K in Atlanta on July 4, which I
did, and defending my title in the ING New York City Marathon on November
1, which I hope to do," said Hunkeler. "New York is the toughest
competition of the year. I love a challenge and I am ready for the race."
The 2002 and 2003 winner, Krige Schabort, 46, of South Africa, will return,
having claimed victory earlier this year at Walt Disney World. The 2001 and
2004 winner, Saul Mendoza, 42, of Mexico, and the 2005 winner, Ernst Van
Dyk of South Africa, who won the Boston Marathon earlier this year, are
also entered. The 2006 champion, Amanda McGrory, 23, who won the silver
medal in Beijing in 2008, has pushed her way to the top in 2009 with
victories in London and at Grandma's Marathon.
Another notable entrant is Switzerland's Sandra Graf, 40, who was second in
London this year and recently won in Berlin. Graf is the current leader in
the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) 2009 World Marathon rankings.
Christie Dawes, 29, of Australia, who outraced Shelly Woods of Great
Britain for third in last year's event, is also entered. Masazumi Soejima,
39, of Japan who was last year's runner-up and claimed victory in Boston in
2008, will compete, as will David Weir, 30, of Great Britain, a four-time
London Marathon champion (2005–2008) and currently the leader in the IPC
2009 World Marathon rankings.
The race will also feature the return of several legendary masters.
Mexico's Aaron Gordian, 45, was third in New York in 2008; he returns with
a 2009 victory at the City of Los Angeles marathon under his belt.
Switzerland's Heinz Frei—who scored victories in Oita last year and Berlin
this year—makes his second appearance in New York; he placed fourth in 2008
at age 50.