Hug survives horror moment as Rainbow-Cooper reigns in Boston

The theme of the 128th Boston Marathon, presented by Bank of America, was History in the Making.

Marcel Hug and Eden Rainbow-Cooper certainly played their part in bringing that mantra to life on the roads from Hopkinton to Boylston Street as they took two emphatic victories in the wheelchair division.

Hug claimed an 11th straight win with another all-conquering performance that saw him shatter the course record with a time of 1:15:33.

The Swiss was even able to survive a horror crash into the barriers as he misjudged a turn in Newton and ended up tangled in the fencing.

He managed to right himself and re-accelerate to smash his own previous fastest mark of 1:17:06.

“I had a high speed and tried to steer, but I guess had too much weight with my hands on my steering, so I didn’t steer properly at first, then turned a bit too late and I hit the barriers,” he said.

“Luckily I didn’t fall out. My first thought was 'hopefully the chair is OK’, then I tried to push myself up onto both wheels and accelerate as fast as possible, as I knew I was on schedule for the course record.”

For Rainbow-Cooper, it was a dream day as she became the first British woman to win Boston’s wheelchair crown.

The 22-year-old deployed a similar tactic to Hug, streaking away as early as possible from a field that contained four-time Boston champion Manuela Schär and Paralympic Marathon champion Madison de Rozario.

She was over a minute clear before hitting the 10km point and held that advantage until 21 miles  where it dropped to just 35 seconds between the woman from Portsmouth, England and the fast-closing Schär.

Rainbow-Cooper, who switched coaching set-ups six months ago to train under Arno Mul alongside reigning AbbottWMM Series champion Catherine Debrunner, revealed that she needed to release the pressure on her legs during the race which caused her to lose time.

But she was back into her rhythm and building her lead back up in the final 10km to ensure her victory, which now puts her right into the mix for what promises to be a thrilling women’s season.

“It took everything,” she said afterwards. “It was tough mentally on my own. I only started marathons two years ago, I can’t believe it. I’m so proud to represent my country and give my best.”

Both racers now head to London for the third race in the 2024 AbbottWMM series.

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