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Schabort wins third wheelchair title

South Africans Ernst Van Dyk and Krige Schabort, two of the fastest wheelchair racers in the world, were put to the test today -- with Grandma's Marathon as only part of the expedition.

South Africans Ernst Van Dyk and Krige Schabort, two of the fastest wheelchair racers in the world, were put to the test today -- with Grandma's Marathon as only part of the expedition.

Schabort, 44, won his third Grandma's Marathon, with a time of 1 hour, 29 minutes and 33 seconds, in the largest wheelchair field in race history.

Van Dyk, 35, was two seconds behind Schabort in 1:29:35.

After the race, Schabort and Van Dyk immediately left for the airport to catch a 10:50 a.m. flight from Duluth to Minneapolis, with a connecting flight to Atlanta, where Schabort resides.

"I wish I could have stayed and enjoyed the moment, but I had to go," said Schabort by telephone from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport this afternoon. "I've never had to cut it that close."

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Schabort, who won Grandma's in 2006 and 2005, looked at a 1 p.m. today flight and a flight Sunday, but both flights would have significantly cut into the $2,000 cash prize he earned.

During the 26.2-mile first leg of their daylong race from Two Harbors to Atlanta, Schabort led Van Dyk the entire way.

At 26.1 miles, Schabort took a sharp turn and inadvertently cut off Van Dyk, who holds the world record marathon time of 1:18:27.

"I skidded, and he came to a quick stop," said Schabort, who holds the Grandma's course record in 1:26:00. "He stopped dead. I was still moving and accelerated from there. It was hard to avoid. If I didn't do it, I would have crashed into the barricade."

MCGRORY LEFT TO

HER OWN DEVICES

Two-time defending Grandma's women's wheelchair winner Amanda McGrory got a few surprises this morning.

Before the race, Cheri Blauwet, a two-time Boston Marathon winner, pulled out for a medical reason.

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Blauwet, 24, and McGrory, 21, were set to battle toward McGrory's 2007 course record of 1:46:29, but McGrory of Champaign, Ill., went at it alone.

McGrory missed the mark, but won her third straight Grandma's title in 1:49:59. Tricia Downing, 38, of Denver, Colo., was second in 2:26:16.

Complicating McGrory's effort was her speedometer, which shut off 1ยฝ miles into the race.

"It is always harder to go against the timer than a person," said McGrory, who won $2,000. "I didn't even have that. It was a challenge."

McGrory and Blauwet of Palo Alto, Calif., are set to lead the United States at the 2008 Paralympic Games on Sept. 6-17 in Beijing, China.

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