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November 5, 2006

Kurt Fearnley

Bob Laufer

Amanda McGrory


THE MODERATOR: We congratulate our two champions. Kurt Fearnley from Australia, whose official time was 1:29:22 and 20-year-old Amanda McGrory, originally from Pennsylvania, now attending the University of Illinois, her time was 1:54:19. She won in a very narrow margin, two seconds over second place runner-up, Shelly Woods. And just an incredibly close race. Second place on the men's side, 30, so a little bit of a larger margin. We also have Bob Laufer of the Road Runners up here and we'd like to hear first from Kurt if you could talk about your race.
KURT FEARNLEY: It was a tough race and it's definitely the highlight of my -- it's definitely one of the biggest highlights of my racing career, and that includes both world championship marathon goals. I knew I was in good shape and I knew I had to take a risk to try to get away from the guys early. If I broke their backs nice and early, I was pretty sure I could hold them off for the 42K. I led from the start line and from about 20K, I hit the beautiful roads of New York and I rolled over a couple of pot holes, I busted my rib up nice into it and it's going to hurt when I get into the shower tonight because there's a lot of skin missing from my hip to my shoulder. But it was worth it. I got back in the chair. Threw myself in straight away and kept going. I felt with a couple of kilometers to go, my head started to lose control, low sugar, but I knew I had to finish the race, I knew I had a bit of time and had to get to the finish line first.
It was a good race to bust the course record by two minutes, and to win by six, it's surprising. But when you get a jump early and when you break the fellow athletes hearts nice and early in the race, it's hard to come back from. I'm over the moon with the results and it's going to be a tough time to beat next year.
THE MODERATOR: Kurt was third place at last years's ING New York City Marathon. Amanda, this was your debut at the ING New York City Marathon. Talk about your race and how you pulled it out.
AMANDA McGRORY: Sure. This was by far the hardest marathon course I've done so far. I heard a lot of horror stories about the turns and rode conditions and all of the hills up over the bridges before I started.
So all in all, everything went really well. I got off to a bit of a rocky start and ended up catching up to the lead back a few miles into the race and I was happy about that. The pack started breaking up around 15, 16 miles when we were climbing some hills and from there on it felt good. The stretch coming up to Central Park was by far the hardest but by the time I figured I could get it, just go all out and I went for it and it was good.

Q. Talk about the assembly of the field, the races today and these champions.
BOB LAUFER: Let me first say, it's always a delight to have two new champions. I knew we would have won because none of our returning -- there were no returning champions in the women's field and indeed, putting this field together, I had eight women early on. But Amanda was really a late entry. If it was a week or two before the race, it was because I pestered people around here at the University of Illinois that she really ought to do this and I'm kind of proud of myself, very proud of her for doing this in giving us a new champion.
Kurt, same thing, he was against three of our former champions. We had a very deep field. The men's field was much deeper than the women's but the women's is smaller but had a great deal of talent so we ended up, Kurt spoiled the race in the men's side by taking off so quickly, but Amanda was right with Diane and Shelly Woods right until the end. All I kept hearing my phone was there are three of them and they are changing places but there are just three of them. No, it was a great race on the women's side. Kurt was just amazing to watch. He made a big mistake by taking off and going up the hill in the first mile up the Verrazanno Bridge and I was wrong. I'm glad I'm wrong and wonderful just having two people who have not been up here before and having witnessed what it's like to be the winner in New York and they will know that today and find out tomorrow with all of the after-event festivities.
THE MODERATOR: The road race is -- a spill can happen but we did see it on TV. Talk a little bit more about that.
KURT FEARNLEY: I didn't look at my heart rate. I think when the adrenaline hit me and I hit the ground and I just threw myself straight back in automatically, something else kind of took over in my head and it wasn't the thinking part. It was more the instinct just to try and get the line. So pretty sure it was near the middle of the course, probably 20 to 23K.

Q. Is this the first time you've had a crash like that?
KURT FEARNLEY: This is the first time I've come out of my chair during a race. I actually finished the Athens Marathon and it was front page news at home because I believe my tire in the last five kilometers -- I got messages from my brothers and from my family saying that a blown tire was a touch of marketing genius. So as soon as this gets out back home and it starts spreading around, I'm going to get a lot of messages saying, oh, that wasn't good enough, you might as well go for the busted shoulder and rib and bent up chair as well. It's the first time it happened and let's home it doesn't happen again but I was lucky enough to work it out today.

Q. You were able to get back into your chair without assistance, is that right? And the second question is, what are the federation rules about that in a situation where an athlete is out of his chair?
THE MODERATOR: Kurt appeared to be able to cleanly get into his chair by himself. But can you comment on that, and Bob, you may want to comment on the rules.
KURT FEARNLEY: Yeah, I can, I can get back in my chair. We are having what I would view would be at least a minute lead on the field and with the adrenaline, that was pumping through me, I was able to get in the chair about a thousand times quicker than what I ever have before.
But it's something that we have a lot of track racing, which is what I do, with track racing there's a lot of crashes and there's not a lot of people will -- I know on the track, you're not allowed to be helped into your chair so you have to be able to throw yourself back in. I think if I was to do it right now in my chair, I would probably take about, you know, three to four minutes, but again, when I was an unknown lead and a chance of winning, I just had to throw myself in as quickly as possible. I don't think it wasn't really any of my control. It was mainly just instinct, I need to get rolling again, I can't lose this lead.
BOB LAUFER: I've always said and I have to stop saying it, a first-timer cannot win this race. I said it last year when Van Dyke finally won after three or four tries. It's such an unusual course that you really have to have seen it before. You obviously disproved that today. Was there a secret or was it helpful that you were in a pack with two people that knew where we were going?
AMANDA McGRORY: It was definitely a help that I was in a pack with two people that knew where they were going. They were really good about letting me know when there was a turn coming up. I had talked to quite a few people beforehand to get an idea of what the course was like, how bad the turns were, where the roads were and all that.

Q. What are the rules in road racing, if they are different from the track or the same?
BOB LAUFER: There's probably a number of groups that could cover wheelchair racing. We always take the view that we have cycle support groups and each racer that goes out, as long as they can stay with them, has two bicycles, two cyclist that is accompany them, one on each side primarily to make sure no one crosses them in front of them at the speeds they are going and we are obviously out there early before many -- all of the streets were closed but before people are really fully aware that there's a race coming and when they go by so fast, we have the cyclists there. We tell the cyclist that if there's a spill, you should not help the athlete unless the athlete asks you for help and frankly we can sort out later whether that's something someone would protest. My own feeling is, depends on the nature of the help and if it's asked for and how much it changes the results. I must say we're a little flexible like that but we're New York and we can make our own rules.
KURT FEARNLEY: I'm pretty sure, each race has their own rules with road racing. Paralympic Marathon, I'm 90 percent sure that you are not allowed my help but marathons like London, L.A., New York, there is an amount of flexibility and they do have a pit crew or in a car sometimes cyclists that are able to help you.

Q. Sorry if you mentioned this earlier, what's your hometown?
AMANDA McGRORY: I'm from Kenneth Square, Pennsylvania.

Q. Have you raced with the second and third place before?
AMANDA McGRORY: I raced with them at the World Championships and I was not doing much marathon training and it did not go well at all and I finished behind both of them. This past weekend I raced with Diane in Japan but we had a bit of a crash and that was more are less the reason we came out ahead. I was surprised to be pushing the two of them here and to beat them at the end.

Q. How old are you?

Q. Did you have to be talked into running this race?
AMANDA McGRORY: I did a little bit. I had thought about doing it earlier in the year and then made my plans to go to Japan, and I didn't return home from Japan until this past Wednesday, and I thought it would be too much to get home on Wednesday, have one day, and then leave for another race on Friday.
But I'm glad I decided to in the end.

Q. You also competed in Japan; is that correct?
KURT FEARNLEY: Yeah, it's been a great year. At the moment, I'm 14 wins for my last 17 races. Japan I was second and I've had two other second -- one second and a third, as well. But last weekend was the fastest marathon I've done. I did it in 14, 24, 16, it was a minute -- I was pleased. If you're going to come second, it might as well be the fastest you've ever gone. So it's a hell of a run at the moment.
BOB LAUFER: I'm not allowed to pick winners or favourites but down deep I thought it was Kurt's year to win New York. Bob Molinarty (ph) who did the announcing for the NBC show before the race, told him I didn't know what it was based on but I would tell him later, Amanda is going to win this race. We both picked a winner.

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