Joshua Cassidy of Canada
won the men's wheelchair marathon race in 1h18:25
the fastest time in history !!!!
OTTAWA — Ottawa-born Joshua Cassidy pushed himself into a whole new stratosphere Monday: the fastest wheelchair marathon athlete in the world.
And Cassidy, who was introduced to wheelchair racing about a decade ago through the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, did it all by himself with a little fine-tuning from the National Research Council Canada’s wind tunnel.
A month after visiting the research venue near the Ottawa International Airport to refine his pushing technique and reduce his times, Cassidy, 27, won the men’s wheelchair race during the Boston Marathon Monday in world- and course-record times.
Cassidy, who is a double leg amputee as a result of being diagnosed with neuroblastoma (cancer in the spine and abdomen) shortly after his birth, blitzed the hot, fabled Boston course in one hour 18 minutes 25 seconds, which beat both records by two seconds and rocketed him to the top of his field.
“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.”
Cassidy, the 2010 London Marathon champion and an employee of a fitness club in Guelph, seized the lead at about the four-kilometre mark, pulled away and won by more than three minutes. The old records were set by nine-time Boston champion Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa in 2004 at 1:18:27 for the 42.195-kilometre distance.
Cassidy, who has little sponsorship and must pay for most of his own travel, training and equipment, collected $15,000 U.S. for winning the men’s wheelchair title and a bonus of $10,000 for setting a world record.
“He got an early break (in the race) and got away, and that, combined with him having done analysis on his pushing position at the Ottawa wind tunnel in the last month, made him three per cent more efficient,” Burdus said.
Cassidy also unveiled a new style racing helmet, which likely proved aerodynamically beneficial. Instead of the traditional oval-shaped and ribbed bicycle helmet, Cassidy wore what appeared to be something like a football or motorcycle helmet with a large, attached sunglasses-style visor. The design markings on the helmet gave him the appearance of comic book character Judge Dredd. When Cassidy isn’t racing on the track (he’s Canada’s top athlete from 800 to 10,000 metres in the men’s T54 class and holds national records in the 1,500 and 5,000 metres), he’s a freelance illustrator.
“My head was blowing up, vision getting narrow … but just don’t think about it,” he told WBZ-TV at the finish line, where the temperature was 26C when he stopped.
At the mid-point of the race, Cassidy was timed in 37:37 and was 22 seconds ahead of the world-record pace. However, as he approached Heartbreak Hill at 32 kilometres, he was 17 seconds off the record pace. “Once I got to the top of Heartbreak, I knew I would win the race,” said Cassidy, who got his start in wheelchair racing with Bob Schrader and Amanda Fader of the Ottawa Lions. “So I went, battling on my own the rest of the way, to see if I could get the record.”
Australia’s Kurt H. Fearnley, who is considered the Marathon Man of wheelchair sports, having won the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games marathon gold medals, was a distant second in 1:21:39. Japan’s Kota Hokinoue was third at 1:23:26. Diane Roy of Quebec City was third in the women’s wheelchair marathon division.