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Van Dyk, April leave their mark at NY City half-marathon
- Updated: March 17, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
Paralympic and Olympic athletes Ernst van Dyk and Lusapho April ensured the South African flag flew proudly at the NY City Half-marathon in the United States on Sunday.
Van Dyk blitzed a course record of 48min 52sec for the 21.1-kilometre event while April was just pipped for the podium as he ended fourth in an impressive time of 61:21.
The elite men’s race saw Leonard Korir and Stephen Sambu involved in a thrilling finish and the Kenyan duo were timed at 1:01:06 and 1:01:07 respectively. Mexico’s Juan Luis Barrios was third in 61:14.
At 32, April was the oldest athlete in the top five finishers.
Meanwhile, Van Dyk was in excellent frame of mind after his victory as he pulled clear of American Josh George for a 24-second victory margin.
Said the 10-time Boston Marathon champion: ‘Things are looking good for the Boston and London Marathons in four weeks and with London also serving as our IPC World Championships this year I have a lot to look forward to.
‘There was heaps of ice and snow in Central Park that was melting and making corners slippery and dangerous! There were also tough climbs in the park, a long straight piece of road that drags up into the wind (8km long!) and off course rough bumpy roads with potholes after a harsh winter.’
This was only the second time that the event had hosted a wheelchair division and although there were some 20,000 runners competing, the wheelchair section was small.
‘When I got invited I thought it would be a good opportunity to test my fitness four weeks before the defence of my Boston marathon title. My biggest competition was going to come from Josh who won the race last year and he also won last year’s Chicago Marathon.
‘The course, which starts in Central Park and also goes through Times Square, is a tough and bumpy one. There’s never any chance to recover or rest, you are working hard the whole time. Josh is a good climber and he put a world of hurt into me in the first 8km but I was able to hang on.
‘Then, with the worst of the hills behind us I launched a small attack and was able to pull away from him. I got it up to a 75m lead and then just kept it there till the end. The time was a course record but not a very fast time as it’s one of the hardest half-marathons I’ve ever done.’
As for April, he reckons his run was a huge morale booster. ‘It was just the kind of run I’ve been wanting because I didn’t have a great year last year. I was hoping I’d finish in the top three but I’m still pretty chuffed and this result has me feeling good for Boston Marathon.’
April was in the mix right until the last 600m. ‘They broke away just before we exited the tunnel. This was my first time at this race and also the first time I did a circuit race, apart from World half-marathon championships.
‘Conditions were tough with the snow that had frozen into ice but I managed to cope with it.
‘Now I’m back to South Africa via Doha and my next race will be the Two Oceans half-marathon next month.’
At least April will have the consolation of knowing that his bank balance will have been nicely boosted by his fine run. He won $5,500 for fourth, plus an appearance fee
‘It was a good pay day for me and I’ll used some of it to get my daughter Avuzwa something after I was away from her. For the rest I’ll save it… once I’ve retired I’ll get to spend it,’ he concluded.