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November 4, 2016

Manuela Schar

New York, New York

Q. I'm really curious, the wheelchair athletes face each other so often, five, six, seven times a year maybe. You know everything about each other, everybody's strengths, everybody's weaknesses. How do you approach your race like that tactically when you already know so much about each other?
MANUELA SCHAR: It's true. You get to know somebody really good, especially in racing, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, and you try to use that during the race against them. So it's helpful sometimes. And sometimes, well, they also get to know you. So when you have a hard time during the race, you try to hide it so they can't figure out.

You know -- you said up there you know Tatyana's strengths. She can go uphill like it's flat, and she knows you know that.

MANUELA SCHAR: Yeah, she's going to try to attack in the climbing. So you have to be ready when there's a hill.

Q. Right. It seems so much different from running in that they don't face each other that often. They're only guessing.
MANUELA SCHAR: I haven't raced with her since Chicago. That's sill a few weeks. So I don't really know what shape she is in. It's going to be a little bit of surprise, or you don't know how everyone is prepared. But, yeah, it's more often that you get to see everyone else.

Q. So the biggest variable for you is really in what shape you're in, what condition you're in, because you already know each other's strengths, weaknesses, and tactics.
MANUELA SCHAR: That's true, yeah.

Q. Interesting. So you'd better be in good shape, huh?

Q. Where the marathon ended in Rio, it was close. You lost. So what happened at the end to make it so close?
MANUELA SCHAR: The difference is that at a Paralympic games the marathon is at the very end. So usually, you've been racing for like nine days or eight days. That makes it really tough. And then the second point is that it was a really, really special course, like there was no difficulties. Like no turning points, no climbing. It was like a non-technical course. So everyone could stay together.

We tried to attack a few times in the beginning, but everyone came back. That made it to like eight or nine of us at the end, and then it gets crowded. It was not good for me.

Q. When you saw the finish, given that it was so close, Tatyana is usually the one who sprints ahead and finds that extra gear, what happened that enabled you to go ahead?
MANUELA SCHAR: You mean, at Rio, the marathon?

Q. Yes.
MANUELA SCHAR: I guess it was a really big pack, and everyone was trying to have the best position. So there was contact, and at the end it was just a really, really long sprint, and I tried to be in front for a long time, like I tried to be able to sprint, and then I just wasn't strong enough, yeah.

Q. I'm going to be in the lead car tomorrow. So it's going to be really exciting to see that. How does strategy work at the end in terms of drafting? And maybe even kind of the unspoken rules about sort of taking the lead and letting somebody else take the lead. How does that strategy play into a marathon?
MANUELA SCHAR: It's a really, really big difference whether you're in front or you can be behind someone. So at the end, you have to try to guess position to have that extra energy for the strengths, and especially here when it's uphill after a marathon, that's pretty tough. It depends a lot on the weather also. When it's windy, yeah, no one really wants to pull. So that's a big point.

Q. Do you guys take turns?

Q. Even though you're not with the other U.S. athletes who are helping each other out, but do you also help each other out? What's like the unspoken --
MANUELA SCHAR: Yeah, it's like a gain for both because, when you stay together as a pack, you have to work to keep that distance between you and the rest of the field. So you want to work with each other. When you can, you have to like take turns and change, yeah.

Q. Is it just kind of good sportsmanship, taking turns, or is it just sport racing?
MANUELA SCHAR: No, you get something out of it too because you want to keep the pace up. So maybe the pack behind you is like five or six people, and they can work better together because they have more people to change to take. So you have to work hard to keep that distance.

Q. I guess Amanda was saying yesterday, when I was asking her about strategy, she was saying the guys don't do that so much, that they were against each other?
MANUELA SCHAR: Maybe. I think that used to be maybe like that years ago, but it became pretty competitive in the women's field too. I can say that because I'm like the only one from Europe. Sometimes I get to feel that a little bit, that people from the same countries work together, of course.

Q. What is the hardest part about this race?
MANUELA SCHAR: For me, the hardest part is the start on the bridge and going uphill. Yeah, I have to work really, really hard to keep -- you know, to be with everyone else. And then the last part is hard too, Queensboro Bridge. It's so long.

Q. What about the road conditions? Have you ever had troubles in the past?
MANUELA SCHAR: I didn't, but this is a problem sometimes, of course. Especially when you're in a pack and you're behind someone, you can't really see that far. But Chicago is really bad.

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