Swiss racer Edith Hunkeler won the women’s wheelchair division of the New York City Marathon in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009. She set a course record of 1:59:30 in the first of those wins and smashed it in 2007 with a time of 1:52:38, a mark that stood until 2011.
The first wheelchair athlete inducted into the New York Road Runners Hall of Fame, Hunkeler triumphed over adversity to achieve greatness. Paralyzed in a car accident in 1994, and after rehabilitation in several Swiss hospitals, she traveled to Florida in 1996 to learn English and began participating in wheelchair sports—first as a fun diversion, then as a serious pursuit, setting her sights on the 2000 Sydney Paralympics. Though a crash in one of the lead-up races kept her on the sidelines,m she bounced back in 2001 to earn three gold medals at the European Championships, then gold in the 1500m at the 2002 World Championships.
Hunkeler won the Boston Marathon in 2002 and 2006 and three gold medals at the 2006 World Championships. She might have gone home with four, but in the marathon, she was involved in another crash that led to a two-month hospitalization. Told by doctors she would never race again, Hunkeler came back to win the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. Four years later, she struck gold again at the 2012 London Paralympics, this time in the 5000m. Hunkeler is the mother of an 8-year-old daughter, Elin.