NEW YORK — Tatyana McFadden captured the second-ever marathon Grand Slam, winning the New York City Marathon women’s wheelchair division on Sunday on top of her titles in Boston, London and Chicago earlier this year.
Who was the first athlete, able-bodied or wheelchair, to win four major marathons in one year? Also McFadden, who also won Boston, London, Chicago and New York City last year.
In the last 26 months, McFadden won three gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympics (giving her 10 career Paralympic medals), six gold medals at the 2013 IPC World Track and Field Championships, one cross-country skiing silver medal at the Sochi 2014 Paralympics and those eight major marathon titles.
“I cannot believe that I have won eight marathons in a row,” McFadden said. “This is absolutely incredible.”
On Sunday, McFadden conquered a 23.2-mile route rather than the standard 26.2-mile course for her third New York title (she won her first in 2010). She finished in 1 hour, 42 minutes, 16 seconds in Central Park.
She won by 1:08, after falling out of her chair near the finish on a tight right turn.
“It was quite embarrassing,” McFadden said, “but I owned it at that moment, and I got back in and took one look behind me to make sure the girls didn’t catch me.”
The wheelchair start was moved from the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island into Brooklyn due to high winds. Gusts of 40mph were expected. McFadden agreed with the decision to race 23.2 miles instead of 26.2.
“That was just a safety call,” McFadden said. “It was very, very windy. So in the race, you had to be smart. You had to be strategic. And you had to conserve, and you had to think about where your strength and weaknesses are throughout the entire race.”
New York Road Runners, which puts on the marathon, believes a shortened wheelchair race has happened before due to high winds, in 1995, but couldn’t confirm officially.
McFadden was born in Russia paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida and adopted from a St. Petersburg orphanage at age 6 by an American family.
She is 25 years old and next plans to race in the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon in Japan on Nov. 9. She hopes to make her fourth U.S. Paralympic team in 2016.
Australian Kurt Fearnley won the men’s 23.2-mile wheelchair race in 1:30:57 for his fifth title in New York.