U of I wheelchair athletes Tatyana McFadden, ’13 ACES, EDM ’19, and Daniel Romanchuk, who trained at the University for the 2016 and 2020 Paralympics, delivered two stellar performances in October. Both placed first in their divisions in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10, and then took second in their divisions in the Boston Marathon on the next day.
Over the course of a month, McFadden and Romanchuk competed in four wheelchair marathons, making up for “lost time” that occurred because of events rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interviewed after the Boston run, McFadden noted that competing in back-to-back events was grueling. She left Chicago immediately after her win and arrived in Boston in time to take a COVID-19 test and catch what rest and recovery she could before a 4:30 a.m. wake-up for the next race. “I knew the race was going to be quite challenging, and I was sore, so in the warm-ups I tried to loosen up as much as possible,” she told the Baltimore Sun after the Boston race. “I think I started to feel the fatigue at mile 20, just after Heartbreak [Hill], and I thought: ‘OK, at this point, I just want to see the finish line.’”
McFadden—the only elite female athlete scheduled to compete in five major marathons this year—will compete in the New York Marathon on Nov. 7. While she has found this compacted schedule to be a challenge, she’d do it all again, given the chance. “Knowing myself, I probably can’t let go of an opportunity like that, because I love racing,” she told the Sun.
Romanchuk won two medals in this year’s Tokyo Paralympics and is the defending men’s champion in the New York City Marathon’s wheelchair race. He, too, welcomes the challenge of the compacted race season, especially since it means a return to “real, in-person” racing rather than competing virtually. He told the Baltimore Sun, “Getting on start lines with athletes like Ernst [van Dyk] and Marcel [Hug] and really a number of other athletes—there’s just so much experience. I always learn something.”
Read more about Tatyana Mc Fadden in Illinois Alumni magazine.
Listen to UI College of Applied Health Sciences’ interview with Daniel Romanchuk.