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WHEELCHAIR DIVISION

Mendoza, Blauwet win

March 03, 2008|Helene Elliott

Wheelchair racers Saul Mendoza of Mexico and Cheri Blauwet of the U.S. have recently enjoyed life-changing experiences.

For Mendoza, it was the birth last week of his first child. For Blauwet, it was finishing medical school at Stanford. But for both, success has remained a constant.

Mendoza on Sunday won the L.A. Marathon men's wheelchair race for the seventh time, dodging stragglers from the bicycle tour to finish in 1 hour 31 minutes 12 seconds. Mendoza, 41, sprinted at the end to arrive more than a minute ahead of runner-up Krige Schabort of South Africa.

Blauwet, 27, returned to racing after taking a break to attend school. This was her fourth L.A. title, after winning twice in New York and twice at Boston. Her time of 1:53:35 was three minutes ahead of Adiadne Hernandez of Mexico.

"It's really exciting to see the women's field become deeper and faster and more aggressive, which it should be," said Blauwet, who suffered a spinal cord injury as a child on her family's Iowa farm.

Mendoza said his son's birth gave him new motivation -- and he needed it to get through slow bike tour participants. He suggested in the future bike riders be limited to one side of the road.

"It was pretty tough. . . . We went through the bikes the safest we could," he said.

-- Helene Elliott

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