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The Defending Wheelchair Champion Bounces Back For NYC

The five-time wheelchair champion explains how blood clots affected her training and how she plans to bounce back for Sunday's NYC Marathon.

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Tatyana winning the 2016 New York City Marathon

Tatyana Returns To The NYC Marathon With Caution

Elite women’s wheelchair competitor Tatyana McFadden hopes a familiar setting will help her rebound from some unexpected adversity this season.

McFadden is returning for the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday. She has won five titles on the course–including the last four editions of the race.

In anticipation of this year’s race, McFadden said, “I definitely hope to be in the top three. It definitely depends on what the weather will be. It would be a very tough race in the rain. It could play out a little bit different. But definitely somewhere in the top three.

“We’ll see. It’ll be pretty tough. The girls are pretty good at hill climbing.”

And hill climbing, she said, is what separates the NYC Marathon from other marathons.

McFadden called the early climb in the marathon “extremely tough,” and noted, “Sometimes it even separates athletes right there at the beginning.

“There’s an extreme downhill right after,” she added. And while the course levels out, it then becomes “up and down the whole way, even in Central Park. Central Park is a climb as well. It’s a really tough race.”

Related: Follow Our Coverage Of The 2017 TCS NYC Marathon

This year, the race is tinged with tragedy after a truck attack on Tuesday left eight people dead and numerous others injured on a Lower Manhattan bike path. Suspect Sayfullo Saipov faces terrorism charges.

“New York has been absolutely amazing–the whole staff, the community, the volunteers have gone out, sent emails, reached out to all the athletes,” McFadden said, “kind of giving support. I know they’re working as it gets even closer and closer, working closely with law enforcement, the police here. They’re doing a good job, giving support not only to the runners, but the city in general. At all the events, they’re doing extra support. It’s really nice to see.”

This year’s women’s field is “really big,” McFadden said.

She noted the presence of fellow American and former New York champion Amanda McGrory, as well as Manuela Schar of Switzerland, who won the Boston Marathon this year. She also mentioned competitors from Australia and Japan.

“It’s a pretty big, diverse field this year,” McFadden said.

If she can place in the top three, it would give her some momentum heading into the winter after a series of unexpected reverses.

In February, McFadden was diagnosed with blood clots multiple times, leading to difficulties over the next few months into April.

“Two weeks after I was hospitalized, I decided to run Boston,” she said. “It was really tough.” And, she said, “I had to miss London. It’s been a really tough season. I was not sure how fast I would bounce back. I took a little bit of time off after such an injury.”

She said this year she’s probably had to focus the most on the mental aspects of preparation than she’s ever had to before.

But her training for New York has been going well.

“A week ago, I was climbing really well and descending really well,” McFadden said. “My favorite part [of the race] is definitely the climb. The descent is not as fun.”

Through it all, it helps that she loves what she’s doing.

“I love to run,” she said. “I love running a lot. I’m focusing on recovering. In training, I focused on what I could do and go up from there.”

That’s a good philosophy for the uphill climbs of New York.


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