Romanchuk roars back in Chicago

Daniel Romanchuk hit back in the battle for AbbottWMM Series XIII as he out-muscled Marcel Hug to win an epic Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

The pair were joined by Aaron Pike and Johnboy Smith for the first 35km before Hug hit the accelerator.

Only Romanchuk could stay with the Swiss veteran, and he proved to be the stronger as they took the penultimate turn to tackle the Mount Roosevelt gradient.

Romanchuk cranked his huge arms into gear and opened a gap on Hug as they battled up the slope.

As the 23-year-old rounded the final corner, he had ended Hug’s challenge for a third straight Majors victory, and powered home to stay in first place on the Series XIII leaderboard.

Hug had not tasted defeat since the series restarted, having swept all before him in the Paralympics including the marathon gold medal. He looked imperious in his victories in Berlin and then London and closed the gap to seven points on Romanchuk going into today's contest.

Hug limited his losses today by taking the eight bonus points for the intermediate sprint section, leaving Romanchuk ahead by eight with two races remaining.

Both men will board flights to Boston tonight to face each other again in the morning, with Romanchuk's team scrambling successfully behind the scenes to get him a new plane ticket after his scheduled flight was cancelled.

“It’s a case of just drink as much as I can, eat as much as I can and get there as fast as I can,” said Romanchuk after crossing the line.

With the safety net of a spare chair waiting for him in Massachusetts with his father, Romanchuk will look to swing the momentum further back his way on a course he defeated Hug on in 2019.

His finish time of 1:29:07 was a new fastest time on Chicago’s flat, fast route, but he knows tomorrow will bring a fresh set of challenges.

“No two races are ever alike," he said. "I always go in with a plan but know I may have to adapt midway through and think as it develops. I think with Marcel, he’s an amazing racer and very fit right now.”

It was a double American victory in the wheelchair races as Tatyana McFadden cruised to a win by over a minute in the women’s race.

McFadden took full advantage of the absence of runaway Series XIII leader Manuela Schär who she had come second to in Berlin and third behind in London a week ago.

McFadden’s victory was her ninth in Chicago and her 24th overall in the Abbott World Marathon Majors.

“This was my first marathon in 2009 and it lead me to an amazing career,” said McFadden. “It’s Major number 24 so now I’m waiting for that golden ticket 25.

“I’ve been placing in the top three, so finally a win. Now I’m doing that crazy turnaround to run Boston. Fifty-two miles in 24 hours. I’m crazy but I’m up for a challenge.”