November 6, 2005
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
THE MODERATOR: We have Ernst Van Dyk new record today and closest to me between myself, Bob Laufer is between us, Edith Hunkeler from Switzerland, 1:54:51. The defending champion. We invite your questions.
BOB LAUFER: I'm Bob Laufer the coordinator for the wheelchair division. I would just note for the record that we had one of the deepest fields and one of the closest races in the men's category. We had basically five, and then ultimately three, and close races right up to the end. Edith, same thing, with Christina Ripp from the U.S. and Shelly Woods from Great Britain with the one, two, three. Edith set the course record last year, probably would have done so this year as well, but for a headwind. So we are very happy with the race and I'll let Edith and Ernst say what they wish to.
Q. How many competed?
BOB LAUFER: Well, among the elite field, we had approximately 25 top men racers, and 11 top female racers.
Q. And the whole number, the entire field?
BOB LAUFER: The entire field, consisting of wheelchairs, there were approximately 70, and on the hand cycles, approximately 100 split between two different starts. Some of those wheelchairs-enhanced cycles are much slower and not in the class with these two, and they start at 8:00. The 9:05 start was the official wheelchair start and 9:15 was the official hands-cycle start.
Q. Edith, what was your race like? The race seemed very tight.
EDITH HUNKELER: Until 38 ks, it was an uphill and then it was a flat part and I could go away. So it was tough. I thought I was really fast and I was surprised that I could go so well, and Christina couldn't follow me. I expected her stronger at the end, because I'm not a real good climber, but I won and that's really great for me.
Q. Did you feel stronger at the end?
EDITH HUNKELER: I expected her to be stronger. I was surprised.
BOB LAUFER: Ernst holds the world record, first man to go under 1:20, first women as well, first person to go under 1:20, about 1:18 in Boston and maybe he can tell the difference between a course that gives you a 1:18 and has a good day today and breaks our course record at 1:31. Ernst, what's the difference?
ERNST VAN DYK: Well, I think New York is physically and mentally the toughest course in the world. In the wheelchair division side, the roads are really bumpy, there's a lot of holes and manholes and you really have to --
BOB LAUFER: Don't publish that. (Laughter).
ERNST VAN DYK: You have to be very, very alert. There was a lot of things going on in the race today, a lot of things developing. Because of the course, it's a very, very challenging course, all of those bridges, hills, lots of turns. Boston is just a straight shot with one sharp turn. This is a lot of turning, a lot of climbing, a lot of descending. It's technically a very tough course.
BOB LAUFER: One of the things we were really excited about, is that we had two relative newcomers to wheelchair racing, known well on the circuit but they have not been showing up in too many of the big events, and that is Shelly Woods from Great Britain who came in third today, she's one of the young racers, and Kurt Fearnley from Australia who is one of the up-and-coming men came in third, as well, in the men's. So this is a sport that we hope will continue to grow, and particularly grow in New York, and we're very happy that we get such great athletes to come here each year. This is definitely a stop on their circuit.
Q. Are the physical demands on you as much or are they greater than those of runners?
ERNST VAN DYK: That's a really tough question, because I've never ran a marathon so I wouldn't be able to say. I think there's different challenges to both of us. I mean, in a wheelchair, if you're climbing up a hill, you could go backwards. If you're a runner standing still you'll stay where you are, so you have to overcome that. But we have the advantage of the downhills of resting a little bit and recovering, so I think it's pretty much even. I mean, I train 160 miles a week, quite a bit more than a runner would train. Training-wise, I'm doing about 16 to 18 hours a week. So I think physically, it's just as challenging as them for us. Average heart rate in the race is always above 180 beats for an hour and a half, so I think if you want to do a physical analysis, you will see it's pretty much challenging.
Q. Edith what do you think?
EDITH HUNKELER: The same. I've never done a marathon before, so I can't say what it really is. But I know it's hard. I train very hard, too, like a runner, and so I mean, the distance is the same and I think that's the most important thing.
Q. How much do you train?
EDITH HUNKELER: I train six-days a week, twice, two to four hours.
Q. Six days?
EDITH HUNKELER: Yes.
BOB LAUFER: I think a good test would be if you take one of the hills in Central Park and then go try with a bicycle and try running up it, I think it's harder to get up the hill with a bicycle. As Ernst said, you can't stop in the middle because you will fall over or go backwards. And you hit some enormous speeds coming down the hills, you can slow a little going up the hill, not much, but you really have to keep ahead of them when they are coming down the hill. What do you think the highest miles per hour reached today was?
ERNST VAN DYK: I think it was around 40 miles an hour.
BOB LAUFER: And they are very good in handling the turns in New York which, as Ernst said is really the keynote to this course. Many courses you can get a rhythm going, builds up some steam, speed. Here, there are too many turns to be doing that all the time. You've got to be aware of several 90-degree turns and they handle them very well. We have less crashes than NASCAR.
Q. You've been so close here before, too?
ERNST VAN DYK: It feels great. I've done five marathons and I've won all five, one which was this past Sunday in Japan where I set the best time in the world for a marathon. Coming in here I didn't have a lot of confidence because I was tired from that performance. As the race developed today, my confidence started growing and finally winning this race, I'm the most unlikely guy in the top field to win this race. I'm a big guy, not a good climber and for me to pull this off with this tremendous field Bob assembled is an amazing feeling.
Q. When did you fly back?
ERNST VAN DYK: I went back to South Africa first and picked up my wife and we got here Wednesday.
Q. When was the race?
ERNST VAN DYK: Sunday, a week ago.
Q. Where in Japan?
ERNST VAN DYK: It's a city called Noita.
BOB LAUFER: Wheelchair racing, like marathon in general, is popular in Japan. They have a marathon, mainly if not solely runners, and a marathon a different time of year, which is solely for wheelchairs.
ERNST VAN DYK: They have a full and a half-marathon there and the field there was over 300, so it's very competitive.
Q. You said you're unlikely among the contenders to win.
ERNST VAN DYK: Yeah, I think if you compare the guy that was second and third today, I'm about double what they weigh. So if you think about cycling and climbers and good descenders, I'm a good descender; I'm not a good climber. So for me to pull this out of the bag and win the race was a big surprise to me as I'm sure is was to my competitors, but it's one that I would really, really like to add to my resume.
Q. How big are you, how tall?
ERNST VAN DYK: I'm six-two, 180 pounds.
Q. You're big among wheelchair?
ERNST VAN DYK: Yeah.
BOB LAUFER: Thank you.
End of FastScripts...