The New York City Marathon will essentially serve as the U.S. Paralympic Trials with up to four wheelchair racers set to become the first athletes across all sports to make the team for the 2024 Paris Games.
The top two Americans per gender will qualify, provided they also record a minimum qualifying time over a window that began last October, and are ranked in the top 10 in the world for the women and top 20 for the men.
Susannah Scaroni already has that time and ranking.
The 32-year-old began racing major marathons in 2011 and piled up second- and third-place finishes before her breakthrough actually came on the track with 5000m gold at the Tokyo Paralympics.
The next month, she collided with a car while training in Illinois, fracturing vertebrate and then sitting out the entire fall 2021 major marathon season.
She came back in 2022 in the best form of her life — winning her first major title in Chicago, then tacking on New York City and Boston victories to supplant Swiss Manuela Schär as the world’s best.
Scaroni described her victory in New York City last year — in a course record — in a similar way to her feeling after winning the Tokyo Olympic 5000m on the track: shock.
“I fully did not expect what happened to happen,” she said. “But honestly, it doesn’t really change how I will approach this year.”
If Scaroni is the clear favorite for one U.S. Paralympic spot, then the other could be a toss-up.
Tatyana McFadden is a record 24-time World Marathon Major winner whose last victory came in Chicago in 2021.
She finished runner-up to Scaroni in Chicago last year, then placed outside the top two Americans in New York City (Yen Hoang was the No. 2 American) and London (Jenna Fesemyer).
For the men, Daniel Romanchuk is an eight-time major winner, most recently in Boston in 2022. He has consistently been the top American in majors, only surpassed by Swiss Marcel Hug.
Aaron Pike, a six-time Paralympian between Summer and Winter, and Evan Correll, traded No. 2 American finishes in recent majors, though Correll does not yet have the Paralympic qualifying standard time.
“Daniel will be the top [American] finisher, he’s always been the best climber in the world and the NYC Marathon has the most elevation gain of any marathon major by far,” Pike wrote. “It could be a close race between Evan and myself. Like Daniel, he is a great climber and does better in NYC than any other major marathon.”
More athletes could make the Paralympic team in the marathon, but that is not expected to be determined until the track and field trials in July.