Chicago Marathon: Challenge for champions

World's best wheelchair racers return to USA streets 05 Oct 2018
two female wheelchair racers arm in arm at the finish line

Schaer (L) and McFadden are two of the favourites for the Boston Marathon

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Defending champions Tatyana McFadden and Marcel Hug are among a 22-strong field of elite wheelchair racers set to line up in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday (7 October).

The Chicago Marathon is the second race in the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XII after the Berlin Marathon last month.

Canadian Brent Lakatos and Swiss racer Manuela Schaer came out on top that time; Schaer, who tops the current Abbott WMM leaderboard with 33 points, also races in Chicago.

The 33-year-old has been in superb form on the roads over the last two years, winning six out of the last 10 major marathons. She smashed the marathon world record in Berlin last month, clocking 1:36:53 - but has yet to win in Chicago.

As the eight-time winner and course record-holder, many would expect McFadden to be the hot favourite this weekend but the 29-year-old has not had the easiest start to the Abbott WMM Series, suffering a broken wheelchair just two days before the Berlin Marathon.

The American raced in a borrowed wheelchair in Germany and suffered bloodied arms that rubbed her chair. A replacement chair is not yet ready so she will use her coach’s spare this weekend.

But McFadden’s hopes remain high nevertheless - the fact that she has still to earn Abbott WMM points is not yet a concern.

“I love the series; it’s fun and you are always going to have challenges that come your way. It’s how you hurdle over those and just get back in to racing,” said McFadden, who won Series X last year.

“We still have five more races (in Series XII), it’s not like it’s the last race. It’s good that everything is happening to me because if it happens in the future I’ll be like, it’s alright, I can handle this.”

McFadden’s US teammates Amanda McGrory and Susannah Scaroni take on the 26.2-mile course while Australia’s Madison de Rozario is also back on the roads having won in London in April, days after clinching 1,500m and marathon T54 gold at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Three-time champion McGrory finished second in the Windy City last year while Scaroni has finished on the podium in Boston, London and Berlin this year.

The men’s field is also impressive.

Switzerland's two-time Chicago winner Hug is joined on the start line by Australia’s five-time champion Kurt Fearnley who last won in 2015 – he finished second behind the Swiss Silver Bullet in 2016 and 2017, as well as at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Former champions Josh George and Josh Cassidy also line up – US racer George has four victories to his name, most recently in 2014, while Canadian Cassidy won in 2012.

British trio David Weir, JohnBoy Smith and Simon Lawson also compete – Smith, who only began marathon racing in 2015 and makes his Chicago debut this weekend, finished an impressive third in Berlin just behind Hug.

Watch out too for American Daniel Romanchuk who, like Smith, has become a key contender on the roads over the last few months. The University of Illinois racer finished third in Boston and London in April and at just 20 years-old shows terrific potential for years to come.

Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XII leaderboards (after Berlin)


Manuela Schaer 33

Susannah Scaroni 16

Sandra Graf 9

Alina Dos Rocha 4

Margriet Van Den Broek 1


Brent Lakatos 33

Marcel Hug 16

JohnBoy Smith 9

Jordi Madera Jimenez 4

Daniel Romanchuk 1