Marcel Hug storms to new course record in men’s elite wheelchair race at the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon
Switzerland’s Marcel Hug was crowned the first champion of the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon, after a commanding win in the men’s wheelchair race.
Hug stormed clear of 2019 champion Daniel Romanchuk (USA) around the halfway mark on his way to setting a new course record of 1:26:27. And the 35-year-old, who has now won three London Marathons, was pleased to start another busy spell of racing in fine style.
“It’s a fantastic course, which means a lot to me especially after this incredible year,” said Hug. “It’s fantastic I have set the new course record, particularly now that I’m going into a busy period. I’m going home for two or three days before and both Chicago and Boston, which I’m looking forward to.”
Hug’s latest triumph came in a chair that had been compared to a Ferrari by race rival David Weir, who took third place. And Hug, who also won four Paralympic gold medals in Tokyo, had this to say about it:
“I’ve been riding in the chair since Tokyo and it felt very good today,” said Hug. “It’s a new position and it’s very comfortable for me. I’ve been involved in this project for the last four years and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a pleasure to be involved with some great engineers.”
Hug proved to be too strong for American Romanchuk who finished exactly three minutes behind him in second place. But the race was speedier than Romanchuk had been anticipating: “It was much quicker than expected and I was much faster than my usual pace,” he said.
“We excelled down Tower Bridge and it was all over after that. Marcel is racing in an incredibly designed racing chair right now, but I’m working really well with my coach and looking forward to both Boston and New York.”
Romanchuk and Hug broke clear early on, with British legend Weir battling to take third. Racing for his 22nd year in succession, Weir sped just clear of Brent Lakatos in the home straight to cross the line in 1:31:34, and insisted he felt stronger during the second half of the race.
“I started well but was a bit cold,” said Weir. “I felt like I warmed up halfway round, then I started to feel very strong. I felt I could be very strong and get ahead in the sprint. I didn’t stiffen and it felt good. Just being back on the road is very good for me. I need to stay on the road and the intensity of it works for me.”
But Weir also feels he has benefited from returning to his old racing chair: “After Tokyo, I had three weeks off the road and I’ve also gone back to my old wheelchair and its made all the difference,” he said. “I feel like I’m back to my old self.”
However, 42-year-old Weir is not sure how much longer he will continue to compete: “In 2012, I said I would carry on until someone was coming up right behind me as I want to see young wheelchair athletes progress.
“I thought it would be much shorter in terms of time. Maybe next year might be my last, but then I’ve said that a number of times.”