Tatyana McFadden won her first Paralympic medal at 15, broke her first wheelchair track record (in the 100 meters) at 17 and plays wheelchair basketball for her college team at the University of Illinois. But a few years ago, when it was recommended that she try the marathon, her reaction was, "What? A marathon? I can't do a marathon."
Sunday was her third marathon. She won the New York City race in 2 hours, 2 minutes, 22 seconds. Three weeks ago, she finished third in the Chicago Marathon's wheelchair division for women. "It's very hard on your chair," she said. "But I love running. I'm very competitive, and it's a different feeling from playing basketball.''
McFadden was adopted from a Russian orphanage - she was born with spina bifida - and her American family introduced her to sports. She has been active in getting a law passed requiring public schools to provide opportunities for disabled children to participate in sports.
Brit wins wheelchair race
The men's wheelchair winner was Briton David Weir, 31, in 1:37:29. Weir had to hold off Japan's Masazumi Soejima in a frantic sprint through the last quarter-mile. Weir has won the London wheelchair marathon four times and Sunday he had to beat a field that included four-time New York champ Kurt Fearnley, 29, of Australia. Fearnley finished third.
Race director Mary Wittenberg indicated that the marathon lived up to its 2010 motto of "I'm in, we're in," meant to embrace not only runners but spectators. There were 45,344 starters, surpassing last year's record of 44,177.
Also, Wittenberg said Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn "is competing now with First Avenue [in Manhattan] for the throngs and throngs of crowds. There were just tons and tons of people out there."
Mike Redmond, the Floral Park customer-service representative featured in Newsday Sunday as representative of first-time marathoners running for charity, finished in 3:42, slightly faster than he had hoped. "It was harder than I thought," he said. "But it was awesome. It's just that I didn't realize that when I finished I wouldn't be able to walk."