Wheelchair racing sensation Tatyana McFadden muscled her way to her fourth victory at the Boston Marathon earlier today.
“It was tough and there was a headwind,” McFadden tells PEOPLE. “I’m exhausted, but crossing the finish line definitely felt amazing. The crowd was really electric and helped carry all of us when we were tired and beaten down.”
McFadden spent the first nine miles of the race behind five-time champion Wakako Tsuchida, but she able to catch up during the hilly portions of the course and then pass her to win the grueling event by over a minute with a time of 1:42:16.
“I’m feeling it in my neck, chest and lower back,” she says. “It was hard today, but marathons are always hard.”
McFadden was born with spina bifida and spent the first six years of her life “scooting” herself across the floor on her hands because the Russian orphanage where she lived had no wheelchairs.
Although she wasn’t expected to survive, she was later adopted by two American women who helped nurse her back to health and watched as the once sickly little girl blossomed into a formidable athlete. She’s the first person to ever win all four of the world’s major marathons in London, Boston, Chicago and New York. This September she’ll compete in an unprecedented seven track and field events at the Paralympics in Rio.
Next Sunday McFadden will be on the other side of the Atlantic, hoping to win her fourth victory at the London Marathon. “I don’t know if I’ll be fully recovered by then,” she says, “but I’m going to do my best to get myself ready.”