UPDATED: McFadden wins 2018 Boston Marathon

UPDATED: McFadden wins 2018 Boston Marathon

BOSTON — A year after her string of Boston Marathon victories came to an end, Tatyana McFadden is back on top.

The University of Illinois graduate on Monday morning won the women’s push rim wheelchair race, coming in first with a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes, 39 seconds.

Among those McFadden outlasted was fellow U of I grad Susannah Scaroni, who placed runner-up.

Though McFadden’s result Monday goes down as the slowest winning time in 30 years — and well off her 2016 pace of 1:42.16 — the triumph marked McFadden’s fifth Boston Marathon title after she won four consecutive races from 2013 to 2016.

“Anyone’s performance in (Monday’s) Boston was impressive just because of the poor conditions they had to endure,” said Maureen Gilbert, campus life coordinator in the U of I’s disability resources and educational services division. “For her to come back and push through it, it had to be a mental and physical toll on her body and all of their bodies.”

The 28-year-old McFadden broke away from the pack early on a chilly and rainy morning, holding a convincing lead near the half-marathon mark with a 55:33 clocking. Her advantage only grew from there as she unleashed a dominating performance after a fourth-place finish at Boston in 2017.

McFadden dealt with blood clots in her legs last year, which forced her to focus more on getting healthy versus piling up wins. From Gilbert’s perspective, that made Monday’s pack-leading effort even more impressive than others of McFadden’s past.

“I marvel at how she comes back from things and her attitude going into it,” Gilbert said. “She’s got a great support system and has always had a positive attitude.”

Wet weather didn’t make things easy on McFadden or her fellow wheelchair stars. McFadden and Marcel Hug, the men’s wheelchair victor, both said they were unable to see through the spray that spun off their wheels.

McFadden said she wore two jackets, with plastic bags between layers to stay dry, and hand warmers against her chest. The slick roads made it treacherous to turn and impossible to stop.

“I could start to feel my arms getting heavy just from all the rain soaking in,” she said. “You can’t put your brakes on right away, so you had to be tedious on the turns. I couldn’t even see because the wind was so strong.”

Outdoor workouts were limited for McFadden and her cohorts ahead of this showcase as well, thanks to inclimate weather. As Gilbert described it, those who are able to put mind over matter have the best chance to pull ahead in such spots.

“You trust you have good training in your arms,” Gilbert said. “You trust your body, that it’s going to be able to handle the weather they had to push through. There’s no way to train for something like they had to push through (Monday).”

But McFadden persevered, and this success gave her a record-setting 22 victories in the Abbott World Marathon Majors series.

McFadden also closed the gap on Jean Driscoll, another former Illini who previously dominated the Boston Marathon. Driscoll won the famed race eight times, with her last triumph coming in 2000.

McFadden, who captured the most recent Chicago Marathon women’s wheelchair crown, said she was overwhelmed after winning what she knew would be a tough Boston race.

“Speechless today!!!” McFadden tweeted after Monday’s victory. “I can’t believe I won the @bostonmarathon @jhboston26. Today’s condition was tough but I juat [sic] tried to keep it positive the whole way. Thank you everyone for the support for the last year. It’s incredible to be back.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story