The weather was unseasonably warm for this week’s Boston Marathon and pundits predicted that competitors would have a hard time of it. That came as news to wheelchair racers in the Push Rims Division, especially Canada’s Joshua Cassidy, who set a new record while winning the Men’s Division.
Going into the race, Cassidy was not concerned with breaking any record. He was more focused on keeping ahead of South African Ernst Van Dyk, the nine-time marathon winner. Cassidy ended up breaking Van Dyk’s 2004 record by two seconds, with a finish time of one hour, 18 minutes and 25 seconds.
Cassidy won the race despite wearing the long-sleeved compression jersey he was used to training in. He explained to the Associated Press, “I wanted to stick with what was familiar and not worry about the heat.” But ultimately shattering the record hinged on his ability to adapt to changes during the race.
He explained what was going through his head at the time, “I was keeping time and knew there was a chance [at the record], so I kept pushing for it. I’m pretty excited, pretty happy. … With more experience, I think you have less of a game plan and you’re able to react a little better. I was going into it looking to stick with Ernst and if I was on my own, I was just going to keep my head down, work hard, and focus on my own strengths.”
In the Women’s Division, Shirley Reilly of the United States also beat out a formidable competitor, Wakako Tsuchida of Japan. Tuschida, a five time marathon winner, was one second behind Reilly, who finished at one hour, 37 minutes and 36 seconds.
Said Reilly of her win, and next week’s London Marathon, “I’ve never done it before, but I’m really excited to do it and I’m excited to race these girls again…. Today just happened to be my day. I’m very fortunate to beat these girls. I’m very honored.”