The world’s best wheelchair racers look ahead to Sunday’s TCS London Marathon
Marcel Hug (SUI)
On winning his sixth Boston Marathon title on Monday:
“It is a short recovery, but the jet lag is not too bad so far, so I am feeling good.
“It definitely wasn’t easy, and I certainly wasn’t expecting that fast time. The rain made it difficult, but I was just trying to go as hard as possible.
“I thought it might be fast, but in the end, I was surprised how quick it was. I was very happy.”
On the London Marathon’s Flying 400 bonus sprint section:
“It’s a very interesting element to our marathons. The one in London is very tough for me because it is downhill and on a corner, where I’m not at my best, so maybe it gives someone else a chance.”
On being part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors series:
“Our sport is in a very good way at the moment and we’re very thankful to the World Marathon Majors. It’s helped us make a lot of progress – in the media, in prize money, in recognition. It’s something I never dreamt of when I was a young kid. It’s amazing.”
On the pressure of being world number one:
“I like both to be the one catching up sometimes, but also the pressure of being the one who needs to be caught. Both have their challenges.”
On whether he can break the world record:
“I don’t know. In Boston I think I can go faster if the weather is perfect. But Boston doesn’t count as a world record. With a good fast course, good roads and weather, I can definitely get faster.”
David Weir (GBR)
On his preparations for his 24th London Marathon:
“I have had a pretty good winter. I’ve had warm weather training and got some good mileage in. It’s nice that London is back in April.
“I had a lot of focus and have done loads of miles in Portugal, so I’m happy with how I feel coming in.”
On winning the Paris Marathon two weeks ago:
“It was a tough race. They’ve changed the course and it’s very cobbly and there are lots of turns. I was at the back end of a 120-mile week too, so I’m a lot fresher coming into this race.”
On what the London Marathon means to him:
“The London Marathon means everything to me. It has done since I started as an eight-year-old in the MiniMarathon. My dream was always to win it, as it was the only time I saw wheelchair sport on TV.
“I love the race, the organisation, the crowd, everything about it. And since it’s been part of the Majors, it’s even better. If I only did one race a year it would be London.”
On being 43 and when he might retire:
“This is my 24th in a row, so I’ve got to hit the 25-mark. I’ll definitely finish my career here, I just don’t know when. For now, I’m enjoying training and racing more than ever.
“We’re lucky in that we can carry on a bit longer [than runners]. If I dip out of the top three here, I’ll probably call it a day. But I want to see the next generation come through and beat me. If I do, then I’ll probably go.
“It’s been a tough year in some ways, as my dad passed away at the end of last year. But otherwise, everything has gone according to plan. It’s been really solid with no illnesses, so I’m really looking forward to racing on Sunday.”
On Marcel Hug:
“He’s an amazing athlete. Anyone who saw that race in Boston knows it was astonishing. I think the rest of us are all battling for second and third, to be honest. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Right now, I feel privileged just to be on the same podium with him.”
Catherine Debrunner (SUI)
On winning the 2022 TCS London Marathon:
“I really remember the crowds in the last six kilometres when I was suffering. It was such a special atmosphere.
“I’m really looking forward to Sunday. It’s a really big women’s field, which is great, and I’m very grateful to have Manuela [Schär] and Susannah [Scaroni] with me. We have pushed the sport to a new level.
“Manuela told me three years ago to do marathons because it is so different to track, but I thought it’s much too long. But now I understand what she meant about a special atmosphere. It was really magical, something you can’t explain to someone who hasn’t done it.
“This race brings the sport to a new level.”
On what she’s learned since last year:
“I think the marathon is more challenging than track, mostly because the weather can change, so you need to be well prepared. I always have gloves with me and a spanner in case my wheel comes loose.
“The marathon is a journey and you have to react and change as the race goes on, and be adaptable.”
On record prize money available on Sunday:
“It’s great that we will [soon] get the same payment as the runners. But when I’m on the Start Line I try not to think too much about being on the podium because of money, I just think about my racing.”
Manuela Schär (SUI)
On failing to finish in Boston:
“I love Boston, but I’ve also had my worst experiences there. In 2018 I couldn’t finish and then this Monday I went for dry conditions and it got pretty wet, so I had problems with my grip. Then I got a flat tyre. So it was a bad day.
“I am hoping for a good solid race on Sunday. With good weather, I can show what form I am in.”
On the importance of the London Marathon to wheelchair racing:
“This marathon has pioneered the sport. It really made it possible to compete on a professional level. We’re treated the same as the runners and it means we are seen, and so get sponsorship and support. It makes all the difference.”
On the London course:
“I thought it would be easy because it’s pretty flat, but it’s really technical and there are some rough roads, so it can be pretty tough on your body.”
Susannah Scaroni (USA)
On winning the Boston Marathon on Monday:
“It was a very special victory. I love Boston. I love the course and the crowd. I couldn’t push as well as I’d hoped, so I was very happy to win.
“I’ve done these back-to-back races multiple times in my career so I’m used to it. I had a really good sleep and I’m ready for Sunday.”
On improvements in racing chair technology:
“We’re really experiencing a time when technology continues to change and you’re seeing changing [race] times as well because of that.
“But there are different function levels among athletes in our sport and I think your seating position is still more important than what chair you have.”
On the record prize money available on Sunday:
“There has been a real change in the last decade. The prize money provides great recognition for us. I first raced in London in 2012 and it has raised the bar for Paralympic sport over the years.”
On Sunday’s race:
“I expect we’ll have strong fields close together. And there are lots of places on the course where you’ll see exchanges, so it’s likely there will still be a lot of athletes together at the end.”