Hug & Romanchuk set to square off again

We arrive in Chicago with a name nobody expected to see at the top of the Abbott World Marathon Majors women’s wheelchair series XIV leaderboard.

Catherine Debrunner has cut a swathe through the fall season so far to rocket herself to the top of the standings.

The Swiss T53 athlete has been breaking records on the track and seems to have effortlessly transferred her form to the roads.

In Berlin she beat a field containing reigning champion Manuela Schär, Paralympic champion Madison de Rozario and the in-form Susannah Scaroni in a tight finish, then in London, with Schär and De Rozario withdrawing through illness, she took command from the gun and scorched home in a course record.

She has not travelled to Chicago, and neither has Schär while she recovers from the illness that caused her late withdrawal from the London race. De Rozario is also sitting this one out.

That leaves the door open for a tussle between the revitalized Tatyana McFadden and her fellow University of Illinois graduate Scaroni. McFadden has battled back from low iron levels that forced her to pull out of this year’s Boston Marathon and has been back in training since August.

Scaroni, with a second in Boston, third in Berlin and second in London, will be eager to make the next step and claim victory to underline the fantastic 2022 she has had so far.

In the men’s wheelchair race to the Series XIV title, things are getting heated. Marcel Hug continues to lead the way in the standings with 91 points, but Daniel Romanchuk is within striking distance on 73.

That’s exactly where the American managed to stay throughout last Sunday’s contest in London, anchoring himself to the back of Hug’s chair and refusing to move.

Hug admitted after the race he had tried everything to shake his rival but had no luck, and was just able to execute his sprint to seal the win.

It was the first time a race between the two had gone down to the wire since their epic tussle in Chicago in 2021, when Romanchuk outmuscled Hug as they made the penultimate turn for home and the 24-year-old snatched victory.

With so little between the pair on the technical turns London put in their way, it will be intriguing to see what happens between them on the broad, flat course Chicago has to offer.

Read the open division preview here.