Three women. Three races. One title on the line.
The AbbottWMM elite women’s wheelchair series is looking like it could go to the wire this year as we head towards the fall season of racing.
With the BMW BERLIN MARATHON just four days away, five points cover the top three contenders for the series, with Madison De Rozario on 50, leading Manuela Schär by a single point, and Susannah Scaroni on 45.
All three will line up on Straße des 17. Juni on Sunday. If the form of the last Major is a guide, it’s going to be anyone’s race as the Brandenburg Gate comes into view.
In London in April, these three and the 2022 Berlin champion Catherine Debrunner were in a clump as they rounded the bend onto The Mall, and De Rozario emerged from the pack to make it to the tape first.
Berlin has seldom produced such a bunched finish in the women’s wheelchair race. For so long it was the domain of Manuela Schär. The Swiss star has won five of the last six, only losing her crown to Debrunner in 2022. She was also dethroned as the series champion by Scaroni after claiming the previous three.
Scaroni’s storybook 2022 was capped by the series crown with a thrilling win in New York where she added the course record to her series victory, and she claimed the Boston title in April where she overcame a mid-race mechanical problem.
De Rozario has a gruelling travel schedule to deal with after winning the Sydney Marathon on Sunday, and she has rarely performed well in Berlin after such an arduous trip, but she carries the confidence from last weekend and from her London victory into the weekend, and success is often the best remedy for fatigue.
We must also not discount Debrunner. She pulled off wins in London and Berlin last year, and could upset the three series leaders again.
The threats go deeper still in the women’s race, with Tatyana McFadden settling into a new chair and the young upstart Merle Menje posing a live threat to the podium.
On the men’s side, the Marcel Hug show has rolled on in 2023, with the Swiss taking out all three AbbottWMM races to date. He has been on the podium 14 times in the German capital, and has not lost here since 2018.
The challenges will again come from American Daniel Romanchuk and the British duo of David Weir and Johnboy Smith, who will all be hoping to exploit any chinks in the Silver Bullet’s armour.
We have seen course records and world records fall on these streets, and the depth of the talent on display in both these wheelchair races suggests we could see more history written on Sunday.