Susannah Scaroni Leads U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Sweep At Chicago Marathon
by Bob Reinert
Susannah Scaroni crosses the finish line to win the women's wheelchair division at the 2022 Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9, 2022 in Chicago.
Emily Sisson broke the American women’s record and U.S. wheelchair athletes claimed five of six podium spots Sunday in the 44th Chicago Marathon.
Competing just a couple of hours north of where they went to school in Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois graduates took five of the six podium spots in the wheelchair divisions.
Susannah Scaroni, a three-time Paralympian and a world-record holder at 5,000 meters, led a U.S. sweep of the top-three finishers in the women’s race, winning in 1 hour, 45 minutes, 48 seconds. Tatyana McFadden, a 20-time Paralympic medalist, and Jenna Fesemyer, a 2020 Paralympian, placed second and third, respectively, with times of 1:49:46 and 1:49:52.
It was the first major marathon victory for Scaroni, who bounced back after being hit from behind by a car and fracturing her vertebrae while training in September 2021 just weeks after winning gold and bronze medals at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“It feels like such an honor,” Scaroni said in a TV interview after the win. “I’ve been around legendary wheelchair racers, learned from them and now I feel like I get to give back to not only Chicago but also to everyone I know.”
Scaroni said the accident was a blessing in disguise.
“It truly gave me a new perspective,” Scaroni said. “I’ve always loved pushing hard and pushing my best, but I have a new appreciation to be alive. So, I think about that constantly now. Everything is a celebration and an opportunity. That’s translated into my career.
“You’ve got to go after things, come out of your comfort zone. That’s where the joy really, truly is.”
Daniel Romanchuk, a two-time Paralympian and two-time medalist, finished second and Aaron Pike, a six-time Paralympian in winter and summer sports, was third in the men’s race with times of 1:33:11 and 1:33:13, respectively. Marcel Hug of Switzerland, a four-time gold medalist last year in Tokyo, won the race in a course-record time of 1:25:20.
“I was hoping to be able to stick in with Marcel, but that wasn’t going to quite happen today,” Romanchuk said, “but overall happy with my result and to be able to race with Aaron.”
Sisson placed second in the women’s elite race with a time of 2:18:29, lowering the U.S. mark by 43 seconds. Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya won the women’s race in 2:14:18, just 14 seconds off the world record.
Sisson, a 31-year-old who made her Olympics debut last year in Tokyo, ran the second half of the race 23 seconds faster than the first half in erasing the existing American record of 2:19:12, which was set in January by Keira D’Amato at the Houston Marathon.
Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.