The fabled Boston Marathon was held for the 116th time this past Monday, April 16. Unseasonably hot temperatures had officials asking runners to take it easy. I guess Ottawa-born Joshua Cassidy didn’t get the message, as the 27-year-old artist-athlete not only won the men’s wheelchair division but set a new world’s record of 1:18:25. Here’s a description of the accomplishment from the Ottawa Citizen:
“Without a shadow of a doubt,” Cassidy’s agent, David Burdus, said in a telephone interview. “He didn’t just win, but he demolished the field by himself. He powered his way to victory. He did it all by himself. It’s huge to do it without help.
“He has worked so hard. He spent New Year’s Eve in the gym, he’s so determined. Everyone says he’s good and he just proved it. Now, he’s a world beater.”
I saw a news item about the win that morning, but figured by waiting a bit there would be additional information to share in a blog post. So, belatedly, here’s more on Cassidy and his big race from the Boston Globe:
On a day when the heat was the No. 1 topic, the 27-year-old Canadian essentially ignored it. He obliterated the field, respectfully dismissing nine-time champ Ernst Van Dyk between the 4- and 5-mile mark, then creating significant space between himself and his three staunchest competitors, Australian Kurt Fearnley and the Japanese duo of Kota Hokinoue and two-time winner Masazumi Soejima. He could have crossed the finish line and done a victory lap around the Public Garden before anyone else made it to the end.
I’m acquainted with a dedicated bicyclist who is currently using a wheelchair while recovering from a serious crash. It’s an eye-opener to see what sort of effort and adaptations are required. For example, wheelchairs are expensive. Good ones cost even more. Good ones that can take a pounding over hundreds of training and race miles…we’re talking about serious equipment expenses.
And here’s another thing to consider: when a runner gets shin splints, or hurts a knee, or whatever, he or she can still pretty much function in daily life. When a wheelchair user hurts a hand/arm/shoulder, it’s really bad news. And yet more and more “disabled” men and women are tackling this difficult athleticism. Speaking as a high school runner (and one-time marathon finisher) who can only complain about middle-age spread, it’s pretty humbling.
Here’s a nice video about Josh Cassidy made by Oakville, Ontario Gr. 8 student Colin Cameron in 2011.
In the women’s wheelchair race, American Shirley Reilly edged Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida. Diane Roy, 41, from Lac-des-Aigles, Que., finished third.
And here’s a whole slew of 2012 marathon coverage from the Boston Globe.