The New York City Marathon push-rim wheelchair winners Tatyana McFadden,...

The New York City Marathon push-rim wheelchair winners Tatyana McFadden, left, and Kurt Fearnley pose at the finish line with their medals and laurel wreaths on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Kurt Fearnley called Sunday's men's wheelchair competition in the New York City Marathon "the most interesting wheelchair race that I've ever been involved in." And he had a lot to do with that.

Fearnley, a 33-year-old Australian, won the event for a fifth time, and he did so by bursting from fifth place to first from a six-man pack that raced wheel-to-wheel the final 50 yards.

"We had a pack of 12 or 13 guys for the majority of the race," Fearnley said, "and then me and Tomasz Hameriak were able to get a breakaway, then see the peloton bringing us back. And then to outsprint six men by half a second, this is why we do what we do. This will go down as one of my most memorable."

Wind shortens course

Fearnley's time of 1 hour, 30 minutes, 55 seconds, can't compare to previous wheelchair marathons because, shortly before the race, organizers turned the 26.2-mile distance into a 23.2-miler. Wind gusts were so strong that it was decided not to have the wheelchair athletes traverse the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Instead, they started three miles into the course, on the bridge's Brooklyn side.

In memory of Ryan

The 15th finisher in the men's marathon was 28-year-old Stephan Shay, who was running in memory of his brother Ryan. On Nov. 3, 2007, in the U.S. Olympic trials marathon that was staged on a different Manhattan course the day before the annual New York City race, Ryan Shay, 28, collapsed and died 5.5 miles into the race with a heart attack.

Stephan Sunday passed the spot where his brother died, near the Central Park boathouse, 24.5 miles into the 26.2-mile run. Stephan finished in 2:19:47.

Tall order

The man with a marathon name -- Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo -- ran the last leg of the NBA Relay and declared himself "glad to take part in such a wonderful event."

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