New York City

Hug eyes course record prize in New York City

Marcel Hug is eyeing a potentially lucrative battle with the clock in Sunday’s TCS New York City Marathon.
 
The Swiss star has already amassed enough points to seal the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XIV title and goes into the final race of the series as heavy favorite to seal a fourth race win in as many appearances in this packed fall schedule of Majors.
 
Indeed, Hug has won every Major he has started since clinching the Series XIII crown in the Big Apple last November, missing only Boston through illness in April, when his great rival Daniel Romanchuk claimed the win.
 
Since then, the 36-year-old has proved unbeatable, and will earn his fourth series crown on Sunday. Only Romanchuk has broken Hug’s dominance since the wheelchair series was introduced to the Majors when the American beat him to the title in 2019.
 
Victory on Sunday would earn him the first-place prize money of $25,000, in addition to the $50,000 coming his way as AbbottWMM Series champion.
 
But there is another $50,000 on the table if the reigning Paralympic champion can break Kurt Fearnley’s course record of 1:29:22, which has stood since 2006.
 
“I'm really hoping to have a fast race on Sunday because the weather conditions are good,” said Hug. “And yeah, maybe we can try to break the course record. That would be very nice.”
 
Hug dominated in Berlin to kick off the fall season, but was forced to fight every inch of the way by Romanchuk in London in October, before crushing the field in Chicago a week later, where he also claimed that course record. He knows Romanchuk will make life difficult for him on New York City’s famed gradients.
 
“Daniel will be very strong, especially in the uphill phases. I will try to follow him on the first bridge, because he's the fastest climber, and then try everything to have a fast race and we'll see if we can work together.”
 
Hug likens his success in the last two seasons to having all the pieces of a puzzle fall into place. Those pieces have included the new chair that helped him power to four golds in Tokyo in 2021, but he insists there is a lot more to it than the technology underneath him.
 
“It was really hard looking for (all) the pieces until the Paralympics in Tokyo. I was trying to fit as many pieces together as possible. And of course, the chair is one. But there are also the gloves and the mental skills. I tried to improve mentally and it's a very important puzzle piece.
 
“And then the support from my coach, from my family, friends, sponsors, so much stuff. And it's an advantage that I have so many years of experience in wheelchair racing. Now it seems that so many of these pieces have fit together and it's a very nice picture.”
 
The AbbottWMM series finale will also mark the first time the series wheelchair prize money is equal to the able-bodied division. It’s a significant moment, says the man known as the Silver Bullet.
 
“For us in the sport, it's very important but also outside of the sport, it's a big sign to show this equality. And it's a great message. For me it's a dream come true that we are equal to the able-bodied athletes.”