Madison de Rozario and Marcel Hug Credit: Bill Moore photo

Wheelchair distance races are a test of strength, endurance and determination. The 26.2 mile TCS New York City Marathon course, encompassing the challenging terrain of all five boroughs, is one of the most grueling in the world. Two Sundays ago, at the NYC Marathon’s 50th anniversary running, Madison de Rozario and Marcel Hug conquered all obstacles to emerge as the champions in the women’s and men’s races respectively.

The 27-year-old Rozario, a six-time Paralympic medalist, including garnering two golds this past summer at the Tokyo Games, won her first NYC Marathon in her third appearance and the first for her native Australia, clocking 1:51:01. She defeated second place finisher Tatyana McFadden (1:53:590) and Manuela Schär (1:54:02), who was awarded the bronze. Both McFadden—five times—and Schar (2019) are past winners in New York, and de Rozario edged Schar by only one second in a thrilling ending in the Paralympic marathon in Tokyo.

Her victory gave de Rozario the distinction of being only the second athlete to win the Paralympic marathon gold and the New York City Marathon in the same year. Edith Wolf accomplished the feat in 2008.

“It definitely feels like the next chapter in my career. I think I’ve been trying to become stronger with that marathon distance for quite a long time now,” de Rozario said soon after breaking the traditional tape in Central Park to claim the title. “I’ve never won a marathon like that before, and I didn’t realize how stressful it is to be out in front like that because you don’t know how close the next athlete is.”

Hug, from Switzerland, captured his fourth New York Marathon championship in a time of 1:31:24, his first win at the event since 2017. The 35-year-old bested Great Britain’s David Weir, the 2010 winner, whose time of 1:38:01 placed him second, and two-time champion Daniel Romanchuk, a native of Mount Airy, Maryland, who was third in 1:38:22.

“I’m really, really happy and very satisfied with my performance today,” Hug said. “It’s incredible to have had this big of a gap. I never expected it. It’s a very tough course with many uphills. So I was expecting to have a group together, maybe two, three at least together. I had a chance to break away very early, so I took the chance and tried to keep up my pace.”

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