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McFadden celebrates birthday with course record

Tatyana McFadden was elated to celebrate her 24th birthday today with her first London win. McFadden didn't only beat her American team mate Amanda McGrory into second place, she also took her title and course record when she won in 1:46:02. Swiss athlete Sandra Graf finished in third.

The University of Illinois student claimed her second marathon victory in six days, after also winning the Boston Marathon on Monday. It was her debut in Boston, but McFadden was quick to dedicate both wins to those who had been affected in the city.

"It was really tough today so I knew it would come down to a sprint finish," she said. "But this was all for Boston. The thought of doing it for everyone who was involved on Monday carried all of us through the race."

It was third time lucky at the London Marathon today for McFadden after she came fourth in 2011 and eighth in 2012. She has fond memories of the London 2012 Paralympic Games track events after winning four gold medals. On the road, she finished ninth in the marathon.

"Today was a great race for me to win and coming back to London was that little bit more special after the Paralympics," she said. "The crowds were fabulous, cheering us on all the way round. Today has been a great day for wheelchair racing."

The icing on McFadden's birthday cake is her award for winning the Boston-London Wheelchair Challenge. McFadden's victories in both races were enough to secure the top prize. The Challenge is a new initiative of the London Marathon Ltd and the Boston Athletic Association. A prize purse is awarded to the top three men and women who score according to points awarded for their finishing places in each race. McFadden will receive US$10,000, with McGrory and Graf taking equal points for second prize.

McFadden was challenged the whole distance by McGrory, who won the title in 2009 and 2011. It was in 2011 that she clocked the old record time of 1:46:31. McGrory finished fourth in the 2012 London Paralympic Marathon when McFadden recognised her team mate's talent.

"Training with Amanda means that I train with the best. We go to the same university but there is a friendly rivalry," McFadden said. "I'm definitely aiming for Rio and may even fit in Sochi for skiing too. The day I don't love it, will be the day I stop!"

McGrory's time of 1:46:04 today was her best time in six appearances in London, but the challenge of a world-class field meant McGrory did not beat McFadden in the sprint finish.

"There was a tactic today as I do like to push up hills; it's one of my strengths," McGrory added. "At around 11 miles, I thought that was the time to put in a real effort. Tatyana and I are good training partners and she is equally as good on the climbs. When we got so close to the line I put a big effort in, but Tatyana has good marathon speed as well as good sprint speed. Maybe next time we can reverse the positions."

Graf, a winner in 2008, finished in 1:48:01 today and acknowledged the Americans' triumph. "We were all together at 20km and then Amanda and Tatyana broke away, leaving our group of five or six," Graf said.

Fourth place went to Australian Christie Dawes in 1:50:43. British athlete and last year's winner Shelly Woods was pushed out of the leading pack before The Mall. Silver medallist in the London Paralympic Marathon, Woods finished in fifth spot today in 1:50:44.