Defending Champions Highlight Top Contenders in 2016 Boston Marathon Push-Rim Wheelchair Division

Contact Info:
T.K. Skenderian (Communications Director)
Boston Athletic Association
185 Dartmouth Street, 6th Floor
Boston MA 02116
e-mail:tk@baa.org
12 APR 2016
Tatyana McFadden (USA) and Marcel Hug (SUI) to defend titles and kick off inaugural Abbott World Marathon Majors Wheelchair Series X.

BOSTON – Nine Boston Marathon champions, including defending champions Marcel Hug of Switzerland and Tatyana McFadden of the United States, will compete in the push rim wheelchair division of the 120th Boston Marathon, to be held on Monday, April 18. Nearly 50 athletes will compete in the push rim wheelchair division, which starts in Hopkinton before the open start featuring 30,000 runners. The push rim wheelchair men will begin at 9:17 a.m., followed by the women at 9:19 a.m.

This year’s Boston Marathon also marks the start of the inaugural Abbott World Marathon Majors Wheelchair Series. 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 winner-take-all bonus. Announced at last year’s Boston Marathon, the 2016 race will begin the year-long series.

A native of Maryland, defending champion McFadden seeks her fourth straight Boston Marathon title, and has won every Boston Marathon she has entered. In 2013, her Boston debut year, McFadden became the first person to win the Boston, London, Chicago, and New York Marathons in the same year. The University of Illinois graduate repeated the feat in 2014 and 2015. Later this year, McFadden will represent the United States in Rio de Janeiro at the Paralympic Games.

Also returning to Boston is Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida, a five-time champion on the roads from Hopkinton to Boston. Tsuchida has finished on the podium nine of the ten times she has raced in Boston. In 2011 she set a course record and world best of 1:34:06, defeating the field by more than six minutes. Tsuchida handed McFadden a rare defeat last month at the Tokyo Marathon.

Switzerland’s Manuela Schar, third last year, holds this year’s fastest qualifying time of 1:38:42. Schar finished second to McFadden at London, Chicago, and New York last year. She won Japan’s Oita Marathon in October in 1:40:46, a world best for 2015.

Three more Americans—Shirley Reilly, Chelsea McClammer, and Susannah Scaroni—are podium threats as well. Reilly, the 2012 Boston and Paralympic champion, has competed at Boston ten times. Scaroni, third last year, and McClammer, McFadden’s Paralympic marathon teammate, train together at the University of Illinois.

Reigning Paralympic Marathon silver medalist Shelly Woods of Great Britain and Australian Christie Dawes are entered, as is Katrina Gerhard, a University of Illinois student from Acton, Mass. Gerhard will make her Boston Marathon debut after a seventh place finish at the Chicago Marathon last fall.

In the men’s race, six champions—Hug, Ernst van Dyk, Masazumi Soejima, Kota Hokinoue, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, and Joshua Cassidy—will all compete for the olive wreath in possibly the deepest elite men’s field ever. With 2016 being a Paralympic year, fast times and course records could be in jeopardy as athletes prepare for the spring and summer racing season ahead.

Hug won the 2015 Boston Marathon by more than seven minutes after finishing fourth the previous two years. Hug holds the fastest qualifying time of 1:21:40, and looks to join Heinz Frei and Franz Nietlispach as multiple-time push rim champions from Switzerland. Hug is coming off a career year which saw him finish second at Chicago, win the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon, and take third in New York, in addition to winning Boston.

South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk is the winningest athlete in Boston Marathon history, having claimed ten titles since 2001. Van Dyk took second last year and is always in the hunt for the top spot. From Paarl, van Dyk followed Boston with a fifth place in London, then finished fourth in Chicago before winning New York. Van Dyk became the first athlete to crack 1:20 for the marathon back in 2004, when he clocked 1:18:27 to win the Boston Marathon.

Cassidy, a Canadian, bettered van Dyk’s Boston Marathon course record to 1:18:25 in 2012. The Japanese trio of Soejima, Hokinoue, and Yamamoto have all broken the tape first in Boston, and look to do so once again this year. Soejima has two wins and a total of six top-three finishes in Boston.

Australia’s Kurt Fearnley has won a plethora of marathons around the world, including races in New York, London, Chicago, and at the Paralympic Games in 2004 and 2008. The Boston Marathon title, though, has eluded him: Fearnley finished second in 2011 and 2012. With his build up to his fifth Paralympic Games, this may be the year that Fearnely tops the Boston Marathon podium.

Great Britain’s David Weir, the 2012 gold medalist in the Paralympic Marathon, has won six London Marathon titles and will try for the Boston crown this year.

Joshua George, who started racing in Boston as a 19-year-old University of Illinois student in 2003, enters as the top American. After a sixth place finish in Boston last year, he won in London then finished third in Chicago and second in New York. George has qualified for this year’s Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. American Aaron Pike will race in his seventh Boston Marathon as well. 

The men’s push rim wheelchair race will begin at 9:17 a.m. on Monday, April 18, followed by the women’s race two minutes later at 9:19 a.m. For the second year in a row, both races will feature a non-controlled start, barring inclement weather.

As Principal Sponsor, John Hancock Financial has provided prize money for the top finishers since 1986. A guaranteed prize purse of $84,500 will be split between the top ten men and women push rim wheelchair finishers. The men’s and women’s winner will each receive $20,000.

B.A.A. Moment

Defending Champions Highlight Top Contenders in 2016 Boston Marathon Push-Rim Wheelchair Division

Nine Boston Marathon champions, including defending champions Marcel Hug of Switzerland and Tatyana McFadden of the United States, will compete in the push rim wheelchair division of the 120th Boston Marathon, to be held on Monday, April 18. Nearly 50 athletes will compete in the push rim wheelchair division, which starts in Hopkinton before the open start featuring 30,000 runners. The push rim wheelchair men will begin at 9:17 a.m., followed by the women at 9:19 a.m.

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