The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) and Boston Marathon principal sponsor John Hancock have announced that reigning wheelchair champion Daniel Romanchuk, 2018 winner Des Linden, five-time wheelchair champion Tatyana McFadden, and 2014 victor Meb Keflezighi will serve as Champion Ambassadors for the 124th Boston Marathon Virtual Experience.
“Boston Marathon champions represent the hard work, sacrifice, and determination it takes to reach the finish line,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. C.E.O. “As we approach September’s Boston Marathon Virtual Experience, we look forward to connecting our dedicated runners with race champions to further enhance their virtual run.”
Romanchuk, Linden, McFadden, and Keflezighi will inspire and encourage participants in many ways throughout race week. All will participate in a Boston Marathon Champions Panel presented by John Hancock, where they’ll provide insights on what it’s like to win in Boston and tips on covering the marathon distance.
In addition, each champion will be featured on a segment of Boston Marathon Live presented by Amazon and WBZ-TV, a daily race-week show produced by WBZ-TV and streamed online on CBSBoston.com from September 7 through 13. Romanchuk and McFadden will highlight the various elements of wheelchair racing, from equipment to advancements in the sport, while Linden and Keflezighi will detail how they’ve reset their running during the pandemic.
All four champions have also been named as members of this year’s Honorary Boston Marathon Team, which highlights 26 stories of individuals who represent the resilience and community spirit of the Boston Marathon. The team is comprised of community leaders, frontline workers, volunteers, Para athletes, youth ambassadors, and champions, and is being highlighted across the Boston Marathon’s social media channels in the lead up to race week.
Of the four champions, Romanchuk intends to also complete the Boston Marathon Virtual Experience, covering 26.2 miles on race week. Romanchuk hosted a virtual zoom push for wheelchair racers from around the world earlier this year on Patriots’ Day in honor of what would have been the 2020 Boston Marathon race day.
“Having won my first Boston Marathon last year, I’m excited to join thousands of participants and cover 26.2 miles as part of the Boston Marathon Virtual Experience,” said Romanchuk. “The community spirit around the Boston Marathon is always strong, and that will stay true this year.”
“The Boston Marathon is a special race, with lots of history and meaningful moments,” said McFadden. “This year’s Boston Marathon Virtual Experience will be a new chapter in race history that I’m honored to be a part of as a Champion Ambassador.”
“The determination and strength of Boston Marathoners is unmatched, and it will definitely be on display around the world for this year’s Boston Marathon Virtual Experience,” said Linden. “While we may not be in Boston, we’re still united in spirit, and as a Champion Ambassador I’ll be supporting from start to finish.”
“Boston Marathoners are determined, and always finish Boston strong,” said Keflezighi. “Training for many months, they’re about to reach the finish of the Boston Marathon Virtual Experience, and as a Champion Ambassador I’m eager to celebrate their journey.”
In addition to the Champion Ambassadors, other race champions, running legends, and John Hancock Elite Athlete Team members will cover miles within their communities in support of the Boston Marathon and virtual marathoners around the world.
Among those who plan to run 26.2 miles recreationally at home include Canadian Olympian Dylan Wykes, U.S Army elite Elkanah Kibet, and Kenyan standout Felix Kandie.
Olympic medalists, national record holders, and professional runners from around the world will also unite as friendly relay teams to cumulatively tally 26.2-miles together on race week. Among Boston Marathon champions to take part include Keflezighi, Lawrence Cherono, Lelisa Desisa, Edna Kiplagat, Yuki Kawauchi, Geoffrey Kirui, Uta Pippig, and Bill Rodgers, as well as American record holder Deena Kastor, two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp, and top Americans Jordan Hasay and Emma Bates. Each will log miles in the spirit of the Boston Marathon Virtual Experience from their neighborhoods.
The 124th Boston Marathon Virtual Experience will be held September 5–14 in neighborhoods around the world. Nearly 18,000 participants from 100 countries are entered, and will have ten days to cover 26.2-miles in one continuous run to earn their B.A.A. unicorn medal and be recognized as a Boston Marathon finisher. The 2020 Boston Marathon, originally scheduled for April 20 and postponed to September 14, was ultimately cancelled in May due to the coronavirus pandemic.