West Michigan hand cyclists return after competing in Boston Marathon

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two athletes from West Michigan are back home after competing in the Boston Marathon earlier this week.

Matthew Chaffee, of Grand Rapids, crossed the finish line with a time of 1:13:36, giving him an average of 2:48 per mile. He took fourth place in the wheelchair division of the Boston Marathon on Monday. Chaffee is now working towards qualifying in the 2020 Paralympics.

He said the Boston Marathon was a valuable learning experience.

"If you don’t learn something in a race, then you probably didn’t something wrong. So every single race you learn something new," he said. "In this race, I basically learned that I need to push myself a lot harder than what I did because at the end of the race, I just had a lot left in the tank, I didn’t use up my energy wisely.”

Hand cyclist Nick Nieboer, of Kalamazoo, also competed in the race. He finished the marathon in about an hour and 42 minutes.

Nieboer said being in the race was a surreal experience.

"I got there and it all of a sudden hit me that I was in Boston. It’s a race that I watch every year and my old neighbor actually goes to it every year ... and he’s always told me about it and always said ‘hey this could be something you could participate in and it would be really cool to see you do that someday’ and I was finally able to have that dream happen this year and it was such a cool experience," he said.

Now that Chaffee has finished the Boston Marathon, he is working towards qualifying the 2020 Paralympics.

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