Defending Champions Highlight Top Contenders in 2018 Boston Marathon Push Rim Wheelchair Division
World best and course record holders Marcel Hug and Manuela Schar return to defend titles at the 122nd Boston Marathon on Patriots' Day
Eight Boston Marathon champions, including reigning winners Marcel Hug and Manuela Schar of Switzerland, will compete in the push rim wheelchair division of the 122nd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16. More than 50 athletes will be part of the wheelchair division, which starts in Hopkinton before the open race featuring 30,000 runners.
A prize purse of $84,500 - provided by principal sponsor John Hancock - will be shared among the top ten men and women push rim wheelchair finishers. The men's and women's winner will each receive $20,000.
Coming off triumphant wins a year ago, Hug and Schar will look to continue their string of success on the roads leading to Boylston Street. Hug, the three-time defending champion, aims to become the third men's wheelchair competitor to earn a four-peat in Boston Marathon history, joining Ernst van Dyk (who has accomplished the feat twice) and Swiss legend Franz Nietlispach. Schar will look to join Edith Hunkeler as the only Swiss woman to win a pair of Boston titles. Jean Driscoll has the record for most Boston Marathon Women's Wheelchair titles at eight.
"With eight Boston Marathon champions returning, this year's race for the push rim wheelchair titles will be fierce," said Tom Grilk, CEO of the B.A.A. "Coming off a year where two world bests were set in Boston, and the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series X champions were crowned here, the anticipation is high for dramatic races."
In 2017, both Hug and Schar set new course records and world bests on the Boston course. Hug won a sprint to the line over ten-time Boston Marathon champion van Dyk, where both crossed the stripe in 1:18:04. Van Dyk will also return to Boston with hopes of reclaiming the top spot for the first time since 2014. He is the most decorated champion in event history.
Schar shaved more than five minutes from the previous course record of 1:34:06, covering the course in 1:28:17 a year ago. After finishing second in 2016, Schar earned her first Boston victory and became the first woman to ever dip under 1:30:00 in the wheelchair marathon. Hug and Schar also won the TCS New York City Marathon last fall.
Schar won't have an easy run to the finish, though, as four-time champion Tatyana McFadden returns once again after placing fourth last year. After sweeping the Abbott World Marathon Majors from 2013 to 2016, McFadden returns after timing her fastest Boston in 2017 (1:35:05). She's known to push the pace especially on the uphills late in the course.
Other champions returning to Boston include Japan's Masazumi Soejima (2007, 2011) and Hiroyuki Yamamoto (2013); Canada's Joshua Cassidy (2012); and Arizona's Shirley Reilly (2012). Yamamoto placed third in the men's division last year, while Cassidy is the former Boston course record holder with a best of 1:18:25.
Americans Amanda McGrory and Susannah Scaroni will aim to move up on the podium in 2018 after placing second and third a year ago. Each is searching for their first Boston title.
Making her Boston Marathon debut is Annika Zeyen of Germany. A gold and silver medalist at the Paralympic Games in wheelchair basketball for the German national team, Zeyen has transitioned to wheelchair marathon racing over the last two years and placed sixth at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon.
This year's Boston Marathon will be the penultimate event in the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XI, which ends in London on April 22. Points scored over a rotating calendar season at the Boston, Virgin Money London, Tokyo, BMW Berlin, Bank of America Chicago, and TCS New York City Marathons will determine a male and female champion, each of whom will receive a $50,000 bonus. Hug and Schar currently lead the series by sizable margins with 91 and 84 points, respectively.
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