A $50,000 check vanished in Marcel Hug’s slipstream when the Swiss athlete missed a right turn just a half-mile from the Boston Marathon finish line Monday.
Hug did win the men’s wheelchair division, but his 1:18:11 time was 7 seconds shy of the course record he set four years ago.
The $50,000 bonus for setting a course record would have padded substantially the $25,000 first-place paycheck Hug received. Having now won here five times (and raced here seven times), Hug could only blame himself for not looking up to see where he was instead of keeping his eyes on the media truck, which stayed straight, as planned, on Commonwealth Avenue.
“I just followed the lead car, and in the last 2-3 kilometers, I realized I was very close to the record,” he said, “so I just went as fast as possible, head down, and put everything into it that I had left — and then I went straight behind the lead car instead of turning right.
“It should not have happened. Yeah, it was my fault. I was focusing on my performance and didn’t think about it, and it happened.”
Even though Hug quickly corrected course, it was too late.
“My mistake cost me maybe 20 seconds, so it should have been possible to go on the record for sure,” said Hug.
The error marred his winner’s glow, Hug conceded a few minutes after the race.
“I am really upset about my mistake,” he said, “but I hope after an hour or two hours, I can be more happy because my performance today was good, very good, very happy, very satisfied.”
Hug finished well ahead of second-place finisher and reigning champion Daniel Romanchuk. Romanchuk’s time was 1:25:46, 7:35 slower than Hug, who more than doubled the 3½-minute lead he had at the halfway point of the race.
That Hug even came close to the record is somewhat remarkable given that he, Romanchuk, and others raced the Chicago Marathon Sunday before hopping on an evening flight to Boston.
In Chicago, Romanchuk outkicked Hug at the finish, winning by one second.
“We really didn’t know how to respond to doing those back-to-backs,” said Romanchuk. “Basically, as soon as I crossed the finish in Chicago, I was just thinking refuel, rehydrate, and get to Boston and go to bed.”
Schär outraces McFadden
Manuela Schär of Switzerland easily topped the field in the women’s wheelchair division with a 1:35:21 time.
Second place went to five-time champion Tatyana McFadden, who trailed Schär by 14:59. Schär had an average pace of 3:39 per mile, with McFadden at 4:13.
It should be noted that McFadden raced — and won — the Chicago Marathon Sunday.
“It was a whirlwind coming off from the Chicago win yesterday,” said McFadden, who was picked up at Logan Airport at 10:30 p.m. and got about six hours of sleep. “I thought, ‘Wow, am I crazy to be doing this?’
“But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love coming to Boston, and I definitely didn’t want to miss this race. And I knew it was going to be tough, especially racing with Manuela and her going off at a head start.”
Schär knew full well about McFadden’s last 24 hours.
“That was certainly in my thoughts,” said Schär. “Also, on this course, I always have to go from the start because I’m coasting pretty well downhill, so I have to use this advantage to try and break away from the pack.”
Schär was the reigning champion from 2019, and also won in 2017 when she set the course record of 1:28:17.
“I was pretty much racing against the clock,” said Schär. “It’s too bad we didn’t have a tailwind this year, because I was ready to go for that course record.”
American Yen Hoang was third with her 1:51:24 finish.
Schär’s victory meant a Swiss sweep in the wheelchair division, with Hug winning the men’s race.
“That makes the race even better,” said Schär.
Rojas is top US elite woman
The top women’s elite finisher from the United States was Nell Rojas, who was sixth with a 2:27:12 time in her first Boston race and just her fourth marathon.
“I’d say this was the biggest running accomplishment I have accomplished,” said Rojas, who led the women’s pack for the first half of the race. “I learned a lot about the Boston course. I learned that the downhill can just tear up your quads.
“I expected to go out hard and hang on to the back of the pack, so it was eye-opening what ended up happening.”
Prizes in Para Divisions
This was the first year with prize money and awards for the Para Athletics Divisions, for athletes with visual and lower- or upper-limb impairments.
Chaz Davis, a Grafton native who is visually impaired, won the men’s T13 division with a 2:46:52 time.
Misato Michishita of Japan, also visually impaired, won the T13 women’s division in 3:08:14.
For the more seriously visually impaired T11-12 division, Tayana Passos from Brazil finished first with a 3:25:45 time, while Christopher Lancaster won the men’s race with a 3:38:15 time.
In the single or double below- and above-knee amputee category, Marko Cheseto Lemtukei, Adam Popp, and Peter Keating, all from the United States, were the top three male finishers. For the women, Liz Willis and Danielle McLaughlin finished first and second.
There were no finishers in the upper-limb impairment category.
Boston is the first major marathon offering prize money in all three categories, the total purse at $27,500. First-place winners received $1,500 each in all three divisions for men and women.
Among the notables in the race was Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who finished her first Boston Marathon with a 4:58:54 time. Danica Patrick, former NASCAR and Indy Car driver, ran a 4:01:21 race for the Matt Light Foundation. This was her first marathon. Also running his first marathon was James Develin, the former Patriots fullback. Running for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, Develin posted a 4:27:17 time. Brian d’Arcy James, who portrayed former Globe reporter Matt Carroll in “Spotlight” and also starred on Broadway in “Shrek the Musical” and “Hamilton,” finished in 3:30:22. Chris Nikic, who last year became the first person with Down syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon, ran the marathon in a 6:01:22 time ... At 5 p.m., an hour before the last runner was expected to be shooed off the course, the BAA reported that 15,385 runners had crossed the finish line in Back Bay, 351 fewer than started in Hopkinton. In the virtual Boston Marathon held between Oct. 8-10, 20,280 athletes finished ... Elaina Tabb, who represented the B.A.A., finished 12th overall and second among American women in her marathon debut (2:30:33) ... A full accounting will be given on Tuesday but as of 4:30 p.m., the event’s medical staff reported 1,281 medical interactions across all medical locations along the course. Thirty runners were transported to area hospitals, with 544 receiving treatment in the finish area’s medical tents.
Michael Silverman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.