NEW YORK -- The 47th New York City Marathon on Sunday wasn’t Tatyana McFadden’s most successful: the 28-year-old finished second in the wheelchair division behind Swiss rival Manuela Schar after winning the race four times in a row.
But in some ways, it was her most satisfying.
Early in the 2017 season, McFadden suffered severe blood clots in her legs that led to repeated hospital visits and surgeries. She missed the Tokyo and London marathons, breaking her string of 16 consecutive wins in majors, before returning to win her seventh straight Chicago Marathon early last month. But strong headwinds on Sunday made New York a sterner test.
“It was a tough race today, Manuela is looking really strong,” said McFadden, who with 17 Paralympic medals over five Paralympic Games (summer and winter) is one of the most dominant wheelchair racers of all time. “I am proud of myself getting second. I had a great run in Chicago; (the course) being a little flatter there was good.
“It’s been a tough year for me, I missed all of the base training in the winter. I’m really looking forward to this winter kind of getting stronger, being in the gym more.”
Schar, McFadden and fellow American Amanda McGrory separated from the field early on, racing together for about half of the course before the Swiss racer broke away. She increased her lead steadily and finished in 1:48:09, nearly three minutes ahead of McFadden. McGrory raced 1:53:11 to place third.
“It’s scary coming back, being on such high doses of blood thinners, with my blood levels going up and down all the time,” McFadden said. “Manuela is a very strong competitor; she’s been training really hard. We tried to keep up, I caught her on Verrazano (Bridge) all the way up, but she was too good today. I’m looking forward to next year.”
Schar, who placed second to McFadden the last three years, was emotional in her victory.
“I still cannot believe it, I need a little bit of time,” the 32-year-old Swiss said. “I took a big risk and attacked a lot of time. I tried to really make time on the flat, which is my friend. I can’t believe it’s turned out to be enough.”
A two-time winner in New York (2006 and 2011), McGrory won the Tokyo Marathon in February and placed second behind McFadden in Chicago last month. She had hoped to close the year with a win, but was pleased with her performance.
“I’m feeling pretty good about things. There was a headwind out there, and this has got to be my fastest time on this course in a headwind,” said McGrory, a three-time Paralympian and seven-time Paralympic medalist for Team USA. “I am a little disappointed, because we broke apart together and I was hoping we would come in together in a group of three. Still, I can’t be too disappointed with a personal record on the course.”
Marcel Hug made it a wheelchair sweep for Switzerland, winning in New York for the third time, defeating John Charles Smith of Great Britain by more than two minutes. Japan’s Sho Watanabe was third.
Brian Siemann was the top U.S. man, coming in 12th with a time of 1:44:18. Early in the race, he was poised to finish higher, but a crash on a tight turn in Brooklyn took him out of the front pack.
“It was a more comfortable crash than some others,” Siemann said with a laugh. “I managed to toss into the side of the haystacks. I was able to adjust and get back on the course, but I had to race by myself, as opposed to in a pack of eight or nine guys, and that made it tougher.”