South African repeats

Lena Williams

Krige Schabort did what he said. — Pic. REUTERS-

The push-rim wheelchair division of the New York City Marathon went just about as Krige Schabort had expected. Despite tendinitis in his right shoulder, Schabort said he could win here for the second consecutive year and might even set a course record.

Schabort, a South African who now lives in Georgia, was right. He won the men's race in a record 1 hour 32 minutes 19 seconds. Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa, the winner of this year's Boston Marathon and the man Schabort considered his strongest competition, finished second in 1:35:36. Saul Mendoza of Mexico was third in 1:35:37.

Schabort made it look easy, cruising from Staten Island through the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan with his right fender held together by Krazy Glue and cable wire.

Two years ago, Schabort did not finish because of a flat tire. On that Sunday, he had a three-minute lead heading into the 23-mile mark, enough time to change a flat tire and still finish first. "You never feel secure until you cross the finish line," Schabort said. "If you're winning, it's too risky to slow down." For a while, Mendoza looked like the one to beat. He got off to a fast start and was ahead of the pack heading into the flats on Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

When Schabort finally caught up with Mendoza near the six-mile mark, he said he could tell that Mendoza was tired. "I decided to attack and not give him time to recover," Schabort said. He gave Mendoza a hug, then took off on a 17-mile-an-hour pace, leaving the rest of the pack to battle it out. Van Dyk said: "I didn't expect Saul to go out that hard and fast, and it was hard for us to catch him. I wasn't prepared to go that hard that early in the race."

The women's push-rim competition was a three-way race up to the 23-mile mark. But Cheri Blauwet, 23, of Menlo Park, California, won for the second consecutive year in 1:59:30, a course record. Christina Ripp of Savoy, Ill., was second in 2:00:05 and Diane Roy of Canada third in 2:04:29.

"We were working together and drafting off each other," Blauwet said, "and that's how we were able to get those fast times. You have to play smart to come out on top at the end, especially in a field this deep. You have to know when to conserve, when to go, so that you can wear them down versus wearing yourself down."

New York Times News Service