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Wheelchair winner has his mind on Paralympics

Canadian Josh Cassidy was nowhere near his own world record for men in the wheelchair, but he had international thoughts Sunday after winning the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Pushing through some wind issues, Cassidy won in 1 hour, 32 minutes, 58 seconds, far off his world record (1:18:24), set in Boston this year.

Tatyana McFadden repeated as the women’s champion in 1:49:52 to win by more than six minutes.

But Cassidy had his mind on the Paralympics.

“There wasn’t a single American media person there, so surprising for a country so big. . . . I can say this since I am not from here,’’ he said.

He hopes that one of the networks will be inspired to cover it.

“There are so many stories with the war veterans,’’ he said. “This country has potential to dominate the Paralympics.’’

McFadden certainly dominated in winning the women’s side for the third time in four years. She said she was running for a little girl with spina bifida.

“That was my theme, I hope to inspire people,’’ she said.

On the race side, she had the way for wheelers to deal with the wind.

“Keep low, keep aerodynamic, count strokes and make sure to keep your elbows up high,’’ she said.

Top American man

Dathan Ritzenhein was the top American man finishing ninth in his personal best of 2:07:47.

“This was a big step forward for me,’’ said Ritzenhein, who knocked two minutes off his personal best (2:09:55) just set at the Olympic Trails earlier this year. “I can continue to improve on this.’’

Coming from a high school cross-country background and being a former American record holder in 5,000-meters, the 29-year-old from Oregon has multiple running interests, which makes his training different than most other marathoners.

“I think I have PRs in me in every distance,’’ he said. “I think I can still run my best times.’’

He said he wants to run a full track season next year, then come back for a fall marathon.

Top American woman

Renee Metivier Baillie was the top American woman, finishing eighth (2:27:17) in an 8-9-10 finish by American women. She hoped to run a debut record, but her inexperience showed when she failed to grab her own water bottles late in the race and she had some cramping issues around mile 21, which slowed her down.

“I didn’t know what to expect,’’ the 29-year-old from Oregon said. “I had high expectations, but I didn’t know what to expect and had a healthy respect for the event. I started picking it up after halfway.’’

She met her minimum goal of being under 2:28.

Dot McMahan, 35, from Michigan was ninth ((2:32:11).

“My race was very evenly split,’’ she said. “The first 13 were significantly easier than the second 13. My quads cramped up pretty good.’’

Local pride

Race director Carey Pinkowski proudly noted that Chicago has a better course record than either London or New York with Tsegaye Kebede’s winning time of 2:04:38.

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