The USA’s Tatyana McFadden and Australia’s Kurt Fearnley won their second and third Chicago Marathon titles, respectively, on Sunday (9 October).
After three-time winner American Amanda McGrory dropped out mid-race due to a mechanical issue with her racing chair, McFadden took the course by storm, finishing in 1:45:03, just 34 seconds from Ann Walters’ 19-year-old course record.
With the victory, McFadden qualified for the Marathon at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, where she could race in as many as four sprint distances as well.
“I was known to be a sprinter,” McFadden told the Chicago Tribune after Sunday’s Marathon. “No one thought I would do this well in the Marathon. I want to be the best at everything I do.”
On the men’s side, Fearnley finished in 1:29:18, sprinting from the pack at the end to finish just four seconds ahead of both Switzerland’s Heinz Frei and the USA’s Josh George, who tied for second place.
“It was a crackin’ race and the lads up the front pushed it all the way,” Fearnley told the Australian Paralympic Committee. “Heinz always finds a way to be there or thereabouts and a couple of locals pushed their case, too. Today was my day and I’m glad to come through with the win.”
As the first American to cross the finish line, George qualified for London 2012, though it was Frei’s performance, at age 53, that surprised everyone.
“Heinz was racing the year I was born,” Fearnley told the Chicago Tribune. “If I’m still racing in 23 years, I’m pretty sure my wife will shoot me.”
Fearnley, meanwhile, had said he was using the Chicago Marathon as preparation for next month’s New York Marathon.
“Each year I’ve won Chicago in the past I’ve managed to take out New York as well, so I hope today’s result is a good omen” Fearnley said.
“New York always draws the strongest field outside the games and this year will be no different. I’m looking forward to challenging myself against the best, and hopefully I’ll keep my nose clean and out in front and can take that little bit of extra confidence going into London."