Susannah Scaroni felt a loosening on her right wheel as she was barrelling along through the Boston Marathon’s eight cities and towns.
Calmly, she pulled over to the side of the road, reached into her chair and produced an allen key, jamming it into the troublesome part of her racing chair and cranking it tight, before churning her arms into action again and getting back on the road.
It was an unflappable display of expertise and fortitude from an athlete who has become accustomed to overcoming adversity.
Scaroni has beaten the odds to get back to the very top of her sport after a collision with a car in 2021, claiming the AbbottWMM women’s wheelchair series last year.
Having missed out on Tokyo in March due to illness, she was already facing an uphill battle to hold on to her title as Manuela Schar stormed to victory in Japan.
The Swiss star had also won the last three editions of Boston where her downhill coasting abilities have set her apart from the rest of the competition.
Today was Scaroni’s day, however. She already had a lead over 30 seconds when her chair began to fail her, and she was able to stay ahead despite her short pit stop. After that, she set about increasing her advantage even further.
“I was super disappointed, but I’ve done marathons where I didn’t have a key, so I learned to carry one. I just tightened as much as I could and hoped I could maintain my gap. I’m happy it didn’t get loose again,” she said.
“I have come to Boston since I was 12, it’s been one of my all-time favourite courses but it challenged me, the rain challenged me and the crowds are here rain or shine here to support you.”
Scaroni eventually won by over five minutes from Madison de Rozario, with Wakako Tsuchida in third. Schär did not eventually finish.
Asked what it felt like to finally win here in her ninth appearance, Scaroni said, “It was pretty emotional. I always give everything I have and I know everyone else is doing so also. So, this is extra special.”