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'Just amazing': Mt. Airy native coasts to victory in Boston Marathon wheelchair division

Daniel Romanchuck has Boston Marathon wins in 2019, 2022
Daniel Romanchuck
Posted at 9:16 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 21:20:01-04

MT AIRY, Md. — The feeling of cruising down Boylston Street never gets old for Daniel Romanchuck.

The crowd cheering him on gives him that final burst of energy on the final leg of the prestigious Boston Marathon.

Romanchuck, who was born and grew up in Mt. Airy, Maryland, is now a two-time Boston Marathon champion in the wheelchair division.

His time of 1 hour, 26.58 seconds was the best time in Monday’s Boston Marathon. His previous Boston Marathon victory was in 2019.

MORE: Mt. Airy man wins men's wheelchair division in Boston Marathon for second time

“I remember making that final turn onto Boylston Street and the crowd was just amazing,” Romanchuck said. “There was not a single empty spot on that fence line.”

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Romanchuck was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in which there is an incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord.

The 23-year-old has been in a wheelchair since he was 5 years old.

Still, Romanchuck didn’t allow his inability to walk to hold him back.

Romanchuck is now a two-time Boston Marathon champion, a two-time Chicago Marathon winner and a gold medalist in the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan. He also won the London Marathon in 2019.

“Certain things are a process,” Romanchuck said. “They take time, so things aren’t going to happen overnight.”

Romanchuck got into sports at age 2 and began wheelchair racing by age 4.

He was enrolled in the Bennett Blazers, a youth sports program for the physically challenged, based out of Baltimore.

Now, Romanchuck has competed in the Boston Marathon five times, from 2017 to 2022, with the only miss coming during the COVID-19 canceled Boston Marathon in 2020.

“I go in with a plan on how I am going to approach a race, something I want to concentrate on and a goal,” Romanchuck said. “That goal is really never to get a certain place. It’s something that I can control, maybe working on my technique and keeping that together for the later miles of the marathon.”

Romanchuck now lives in Champaign, Illinois, where he has been training with the University of Illinois wheelchair track coach Adam Bleakney.

However, with every race, with every victory, with every road trip, Romanchuck said none of it would be possible without his biggest supporter – his mother, Kim Romanchuck.

“I would not be where I am without my mom,” Romanchuck said. “She has pretty much been everywhere and done everything to help me get where I am.”

In a tweet, Gov. Larry Hogan called Romanchuk "an inspiration to many."