Veteran powerhouse Ernst van Dyk opened his World Marathon Majors (WMM) season with a solid performance on Sunday, taking third place in the men’s wheelchair race at the Tokyo Marathon in Japan.
The 44-year-old athlete, a multiple former winner of WMM races in Boston and New York, put up a fight in the pack, but his hopes for a maiden Tokyo victory were dashed when the group allowed a break to get away.
With two local athletes surging clear, Hiroyuki Yamamoto held off a challenge from Tomoki Suzuki to secure victory by one second in 1:26:24.
More than five minutes further back, Van Dyk won a bunch sprint for third in 1:31:30, with six men crossing the line just three seconds apart.
Meanwhile, former world champion Manuela Schar of Switzerland earned a comfortable victory in the women’s wheelchair race in 1:43:25.
Up front, among the able-bodied competitors, Kenyan Dickson Chumba won the men’s race in 2:05:30, and Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia took the women’s title in 2:19:51.
The next leg of the 2018 WMM series will be held in Boston on April 16, with Van Dyk expected to target a record 11th career victory at the world’s oldest marathon.