US wheelchair racer Daniel Romanchuk claimed his first major marathon win with victory over defending champion Marcel Hug in Chicago on Sunday (7 October) as Swiss Manuela Schaer stole the show in the women’s race.
Romanchuk, 20, got the better of Hug in a terrific sprint finish to the line having been part of a leading trio, which also included Briton David Weir, for much of the race.
Weir was dropped with around 200 metres to go as experienced racer Hug and his young rival Romanchuk battled it out to the line, but there was no photo finish required this time as the American, a member of the local University of Illinois wheelchair racing team, took to the front before pushing across the line in 1:31:34.
Paralympic marathon champion Hug, who was aiming for a hat trick of wins in the Windy City, finished second in 1:31.35 with Weir a further eight seconds behind.
Speaking to NBC television immediately after the race, Romanchuk said:
“I thank God for the chance to be here, there’s been a lot of changes recently but so far everything has been going well.”
Romanchuk, who finished third in Boston and London earlier this year, has fast become a key contender in the elite men’s wheelchair field – a position he cemented further with first place in Chicago.
He now sits top of the Abbott World Marathon Series XII leaderboard having also collected the eight bonus points available during the race.
Schaer, who won the last Abbott WMM Majors series which finished in London this year, strengthened her place at the top of the current leaderboard with a dominant win in Chicago.
The 33-year-old won in Berlin last month – the opening race of Series XII – and continued that form in the US as she finished well clear of her rivals in 1:41:38.
It was Schaer’s first-ever win in the US city, having finished second there four times in the last six years, and she was suitably delighted.
“I feel really happy because I almost felt like this race was under a spell,” said Schaer, who has won six out of the last 10 major marathons around the world.
“I actually thought it was the course that would be most possible to win first, and it was the last one, so I’m really happy right now.
“It’s been an amazing year so far and I had a really great last year too. I just try to enjoy it every single time.”
Australia’s Madison de Rozario, racing in her first marathon since winning Commonwealth gold and the London Marathon back-to-back six months ago, finished second in 1:43:16, with US racer Susannah Scaroni (1:44:48) third.
USA’s eight-time Chicago marathon champion Tatyana McFadden (1:56:35) finished a highly admirable seventh after racing in a borrowed wheelchair again – her own broke 48 hours before the Berlin Marathon, which she battled through, despite chafing both arms until they bled.