Words from the winners of the 2022 TCS London Marathon
We spoke to the elite winners of yesterday’s 2022 TCS London Marathon to get their thoughts on the 42nd edition of event and what success in this race means to them.
Catherine Debrunner (SUI), 2022 elite women’s wheelchair champion (1:38:24 CR)
On how the title 2022 TCS London Marathon Elite Women’s Wheelchair sounds:
“It sounds unreal to me. I did not expect that I would ever win my first marathon here. It was a tough one and it makes me super proud that I could take the win home.”
On why the race felt so tough:
“There were different reasons because I did not expect that I would do almost a whole marathon all by myself [because she was out in front for the majority of it], so that was really tough. I had never done that before. Normally I have training buddies with me or my coach. And the route made it even harder, as there were some holes and bumps, so you had to watch out all the time. There were also some difficult bends.”
On seeming to overshoot one of the bends during the race:
“It was around 26K I think, and I felt I was missing the push ring quite a lot – that’s often I sign I haven’t drunk enough and I can get a little dizzy, so I lost my concentration a little. The bend wasn’t actually that sharp, I just reacted too late and had to stop shortly, but then I was fine again. I just needed a few seconds to regain my rhythm and race speed.”
On how the atmosphere on the course helped her:
“For sure it helped – mostly the last 6K. It helped me so much, I was so glad about it. The crowds really helped me to manage the last kilometre to the Finish – that was great.”
On why she made the move from track to marathons in 2022:
“We had no world champs or Europeans this year, and I needed a goal, so I thought ‘Let’s start marathons now’. We have two of the best marathon racers in Switzerland with Marcel Hug and Manuela Schär and I have seen from them how great the marathon world is. I had been inspired by them for quite some time and thought it was the right moment to start with it.”
On how marathon and track races differ from each other:
“It’s difficult to compare. It’s just so different. The track is not a road – it is always 400 metres, there are no bumps or difficult bends. When I do a 400m, I just go all-out and concentrate mostly on myself. On the road it’s a way longer race and you interact a lot (normally) with your competitors.
“In Berlin [Debrunner’s debut marathon that she won the weekend before the TCS London Marathon] I was riding with Manuela Schär and Susannah Scaroni and it was so interesting. So many things happened, it was sort of teamwork and that was really exciting. I like both, so Paris 2024 [the next Paralympics] I will still do both because I like it and the marathon training has a really good influence on my 800 metres for instance. It’s a great mix.”
On whether she believed she would win her first two marathon when she decided to do the distance:
“No way! It’s quite cheeky I think, but I’ll take it. We had such a great field with great women. I have a feeling the marathon gets more and more attractive, with more athletes wanting to do it. I was really happy when I saw the start list and felt really honoured to compete. But being first in my debut, it’s really crazy.”
On why Switzerland produces such fantastic wheelchair racers:
“I don’t know. I think it’s just a combination of a lot of things: we have a great training centre over there with the Paraplegic Centre in Nottwil. We have a great track, a fast track with a big hall where we can do indoor training, we have sports medicine, we have the research – really everything you want as a wheelchair athlete. We’ve just inspired each other and pushed each other to other limits.”
On what the increase in prize money means to the sport:
“It’s just phenomenal. We’re not used to that prize money, not at all. Most of the time on the track you don’t win prize money. As we have seen recently the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series prize money is getting even higher too [equal for disabled and on-disabled athletes].
“For the wheelchair athletes it’s really great: we are together with the Olympic athletes, we’re getting much more attention and media. We have great visibility and that makes me really happy and I hope for the future this goes on.”
Marcel Hug (SUI), 2022 elite men’s wheelchair champion (1:24:38 CR)
On how he’s feeling after his third London Marathon win:
“I’m really happy with the victory. But it was a lot of hard work, it was a tough race, so I’m really happy and proud I could win here again in London.”
On the battle between himself and second-placed Daniel Romanchuk (USA) during the race:
“It was a really tough battle. We both broke away from the pack very early, at about four or five kilometres, and then I tried many times to break away from Daniel. I tried to attack many times. But no way yesterday, he always followed me. I tried to keep him busy and make him tired so he had not too much energy in the end for the finish sprint. But of course it was also tough for me, I was tired too – but in the end I was lucky I had a better finish at the sprint.”
On how tactics of wheelchair racers differ to athletes who are running the marathon:
“It’s more like in cycling where the technical elements are very important. For example drafting is very important, there’s a big advantage if you can stay behind with drafting. You have to think about different strategies: go in front, go behind. You have to be careful not to be boxed in.
“So there are many different things to think about, especially over the longer distance, when you’re together in a group. You have to have a strategy but you also have to have different options. So tactics are very important.”
On how having raced in London before helped with his strategy:
“It helps me that I had some experience from other years. Especially on the last bend, I’d done mistakes there in the past, I knew I had to be in front. To be honest I was a little surprised that Daniel tried to come inside at that point, so it was very tight, but in the end it was an advantage that I had an idea of how I wanted to go on this last bend.”
On whether he was in the best form of his career after back-to-back marathon wins in Berlin and London:
“I think so, at the moment I’m in really good shape and have a lot of confidence. The last few months or so since the Paralympics in Tokyo have been amazing – incredible, a lot of successes and I’m just enjoying racing at the moment.
“But yesterday I didn’t expect to have a course record like this – not just a few second but a lot. I was surprised. I think it was because the weather conditions were quite good and so that’s why we got the record. Of course, Daniel pushed me a lot so that helped.”
On what’s next for the rest of the year:
“I have Chicago [the Bank of America Chicago Marathon] next Sunday, then I have about four weeks for training at home, then New York [the TCS New York City Marathon] and then two weeks later Japan [the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon], which is my last marathon this year.
“I hope I can keep my shape for Chicago and then I try to make another training session for New York – training a lot of uphills because there are a lot of bridges, it’s very important, so I hope I can improve a little bit for New York.”
On this year’s TCS London Marathon being the richest wheelchair race in history:
“I think this is a very important moment. It’s not only important for the wheelchair racing community, it’s also a very important message for equality outside the sports world. It’s a great message that we’re equal together with the non-disabled athletes.
“For us it’s really fantastic that we have such great opportunities and such great prize money. I’m a full professional athlete so for me it’s very important I have this support, so I’m very thankful for this chance.”
Yalemzerf Yehualaw (ETH) 2022 elite women’s champion (2:17:26)
On winning the TCS London Marathon:
“I feel very happy today; it’s so nice to win the London Marathon. I want to say thank you so much to all the people in London who supported me. I am so happy to win, but I’m surprised, because it’s such a great competition.”
On her battle with last year’s champion Joyciline Jepkosgei:
“At around 35K, I felt that if I pushed, I could become the winner, so that’s what I did.”
On becoming the youngest-ever women’s champion at just 23:
“I’ve started marathon running quite early in my career, so I’m very happy to be successful. To be the youngest-ever women’s champion is really nice.
“It's been a dream of mine to win the London Marathon, so I’m really happy. I’ve been waiting for this moment. I’m surprised but very happy, and my coach and family are too.”
On the messages she’s received:
“I’ve had many messages from my family in Ethiopia and also from Haile Gebrselassie. He said, ‘Congratulations, you are strong, keep going’. Eliud Kipchoge also congratulated me after the race.”
On her preparation for the race:
“I did a lot of hard work in training before the race, so I felt confident, and the training paid off. I had a lot of help from my coach and management, a lot of people supporting me.”
On her fall yesterday:
“I was thinking about a water station when I fell, but I got up quickly and continued to push. I landed on my hip and knee but I’m OK."
On crossing the Finish Line:
“When I turned past Buckingham Palace and saw the Finish Line, my heart felt like it was clapping. I said thank you to myself.”
Amos Kipruto (KEN) 2022 elite men’s champion (2:04:39)
On winning the TCS London Marathon:
“I’m really happy to be the champion, because this is the first time I’ve taken part in the London Marathon. I tried my best to finish in a good position, so I’m really happy. I can’t express how happy I am.”
On his race tactics:
“My tactics yesterday were planned with my coach. I talked to him about being patient then pushing at around 35K or 36K, so I could find out how much energy I had left for the final 6K to 7K. When I tried this in the race, I think it worked well. I thank my coach for the tactics.”
On his confidence levels:
“I felt a lot of pressure running in the lead pack surrounded by lots of Ethiopians – I was the lonely Kenyan and I could hear them speaking to each other, but I couldn’t understand the language. I still felt confident and capable though, and I believed in the training I’d done in Kenya to prepare for the London Marathon, so I knew I would need to fight for the podium. This was in my mind, so when I saw that some of the guys were struggling a bit, I thought this was the right time to move to secure a good position.”
On the lessons he’s learning through running:
“It was a very tactical race. I’ve learnt a lot during the races I’ve run. This job is a learning process – you make a mistake today and tomorrow you try to correct it.
“I plan a lot, so when I raced with Eliud [Kipchoge] in Tokyo [Olympics] I think I did a good job – I managed to run my personal best there – so I learned what I needed to do and I learned from Eliud, the way he left me in Tokyo. You look for situations where you can use the things you’ve learned. Every day, you are learning, when you race, when you see other people racing.”
On his win being the biggest in his career so far:
“This London Marathon victory is the biggest win of my career so far. I worked with my coach and team-mates because I believe in teamwork. We assist each other, when someone is down in training we motivate each other, and I think that’s the way to approach this career. You keep cheering each other, you keep pushing each other.”
On the support from Kenya:
“I’ve had lots of messages from Kenya since I won – I have more than 1,000 WhatsApp messages! I’ve had lots of congratulations from people in Kenya. I’m really happy because winning yesterday was the job I came here for.”
On the advice he received from Eliud Kipchoge:
“I chatted with Eliud on Saturday before the race and he wished me all the best and told me he’d be there cheering for me. I saw him after the race too and we talked. Eliud is really at another level in our sport, for inspiring the younger generation, as well as older athletes, so I have so much respect for him. He’s a superhero. I’ve learnt many things from Eliud that will help me to push in my career.”
On becoming TCS London Marathon champion:
“I feel great. I want to thank the organisers for trusting in me. I think I came through with flying colours. And, god willing, I’ll be here next year to defend my title. You have a lot of pressure when you defend a title, you have a lot to do in your training, but I’ll trust my coach and my team-mates and trust the programme I’ll be going through. I will be even more ready next year – not to go for the win but to go for the course record.”