Schar and Hug retain Berlin titles
Manuela Schär cemented her lead at the top of the AbbottWMM leaderboard with a dominant display in her fifth straight BMW Berlin Marathon win.
Schär finished one minute and 32 seconds ahead of American Tatyana McFadden and also claimed the eight bonus points for the intermediate sprint in a marathon masterclass.
The pair had remained together until the 35km stage of the contest before the Swiss athlete made her move to secure the victory.
Schär, who won ten marathons in a row before the pandemic intervened, was coming off a narrow defeat to Madison de Rozario in the Tokyo Paralympic marathon and had also suffered defeat in the elite only race held in London in October 2020.
But she was back to winning ways on the course where she set a world record in 2018, a mark she then lowered again in Oita in late 2019.
“I got in a lot of good training during the pandemic,” she said.
“I had a lot of good training days in the last two years because I didn’t have to travel, so I felt I was in really good shape, but at the same time don’t you have a gauge of your form because you’re not doing races. We then had the Tokyo Paralympics which were good indication of form.”
Schär, who bagged two golds and three silvers in Japan, got the better of McFadden here, who was still pleased with her performance after a nightmare appearance in 2018 when her racing chair suffered damage in a training session before the race.
“It was amazing,” she said. “I’m thankful for Berlin for bringing me back, I feel like I broke my Berlin spell and it was good to be racing again. I thrive on competition and we didn’t have a lot of track meets before Tokyo, and we haven’t raced marathons in two years. I hit all my goals today.”
Aline dos Santos Rocha was third, ahead of homegrown debutant Merle Menje.
McFadden and Schär will lock horns again next week at the Virgin Money London Marathon, with the American taking on all five Majors in this busy season, while Schär will only skip the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, which takes place a day before the Boston Marathon.
Marcel Hug made it a Swiss double in Berlin as he surged home 44 seconds ahead of American Daniel Romanchuk, with Canada’s Brent Lakatos in third place.
Hug now moves within touching distance of Romanchuk on the Series XIII leaderboard after also scooping the eight bonus points. Both men are scheduled to race in the remaining four AbbottWMM races this season.
“It felt great to be back here in Berlin and restart the series,” said Hug. “I really enjoyed the atmosphere.”
The trio were clear of the field early in the race and it was not long before Hug made his move to try and shake Romanchuk in the morning sun.
“I was surprised to break early,” he said. “The three of us were together and working well, then after 7km there was a little downhill and it was then than Daniel and I broke away (from Brent).
“I tried to break from Daniel and after a while the gap got bigger. It was a long time in the lead to try and keep my pace. But I’m happy.”
Recovery is now the key for all the wheelchair racers with this hectic schedule in a season like no other.
McFadden added: “This might never happen again, so I spoke to my coach and decided to take on the challenge and learn a lot before the end of the year, but also to get that thrill of competing again.”