Van Dyk digs deep and fights back for silver... next stop, London! | SASCOC - SASCOC

Van Dyk digs deep and fights back for silver… next stop, London!

Marcel Hug of Switzerland crosses the finish line ahead of Kurt Fearnley of Australia (C) and Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa (R) to win the men's wheelchair division of the 120th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 18, 2016.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Mark Etheridge

Boston’s under the belt, with a silver medal in the bag… now it’s a trans-Atlantic flight for Ernst van Dyk as he moves on to Sunday’s London Marathon.
Even though Boston has a good few hills which don’t really favour a big man like Van Dyk he might even fancy that route a bit more than London which features other obstacles to negotiate… such as the many twists and turns which slow down a man of his bulk.
Before lift-off to London the 10-time Boston winner Van Dyk shared his Boston thoughts with Road to Rio 2016.
‘Conditions were way better this year compared to last year but there was still a bit of a headwind.’
But the Paarl athlete was soon up to speed and rocketed up to 75kph on the first decent descent to build a good 20-30m gap over the field.
‘Behind me though Team HONDA teammate Yamamoto was staying close enough to me and unfortunately behind him there were 15 other guys hitching a free ride down the hills.
‘By the time we got to the flats at 4km they were close enough for guys like Dave Weir and Marcel Hug to bridge the gap and for a bit it slowed down.’
That reduction in pace meant the pack increased to around 15 and Van Dyk dropped back to the rear of the pack to contemplate ‘Plan B’ –  it was then that Hug put in a massive attack on a long climb.
‘I was caught off guard as Marcel and Kurt [Fearnley] got away but I moved around and started clawing my way back to them.’
Once the three were reunited up front the pace stayed high and the trio together until they hit the hills.
‘On the first hill they dropped me by 50m, being the incredible climbers that they are. But again I fought back. When we hit Heartbreak Hill they dropped me by 60m which works out to around 40sec at the pace we were climbing.’
But the Paarl athlete is nothing if not persistent and caught them again as the race entered its business end.
The final stages featured some downhills where Van Dyk went on the attack. ‘I tried to take the sting out of their sprint. I knew I was up against the two best track racers in the world and in my heart knew that third was a reality.
‘As we made the final left turn we slowly built up the speed as it’s a 600m stretch of road.’
Hug had the slightest of edges on Fearnley and Van Dyk as the finish line sped closer.
‘I gave it my everything and in the final moments I was able to get up on Kurt and claim second. The time was fast and for now I remain in the top three of the IPC marathon rankings.’

Picture courtesy of Reuters