Black woman racing in a wheelchair

Michelle Wheeler is an internationally competitive marathon and distance road racer. Last year saw Wheeler race marathons in Boston, Berlin, Sydney, London, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, in addition to traveling throughout the US to shorter-distance races. And, this year, she’ll also be returning to shorter distance racing on the track. Wheeler will be competing at the Paralympic Trials in the 800, 1500, and 5000, vying for her play on Team USA.

Wheeler has been an athlete since childhood in a number of sports, including wheelchair racing. Her early focus was on the track, in sprinting events. Back then, she had no interest in anything longer than those short bursts of speed, the 100, the 200, the 400 meters.

As she entered adulthood, Wheeler’s focus shifted to other parts of life. She became a mom. She moved from her childhood home in New Jersey to New York City, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Competitive wheelchair racing wasn’t top of mind, but as it would turn out, fate stepped in to change that.

Today, Wheeler is a professional marathon wheelchair racer, earning invitations to line up at races all over the world.

That is what this story is all about, how Wheeler returned to racing and discovered her passion for competing in marathons; and how she’s learned to navigate life as a mom, full time rehabilitation and mental health counselor, and professional athlete. As Wheeler goes into, finding balance and focusing on mental health has been key to this journey.

Wheeler opened her 2024 season at the NYC Half-Marathon on March 17, where she finished a strong 4th place. Next on her schedule is the Boston Marathon, taking place on April 15. At Boston, Wheeler will be racing as a member of Team Bevans. Team Bevans comprises exceptional Black women marathoners running the Boston Marathon. They run in honor of Marilyn Bevans, the first American born Black woman to run the marathon in under 3 hours. This is just one of many accolades Bevans earned as one of the best marathoners of her day. Wheeler and the other women on the team embody the spirit of Black woman excellence in marathon running sparked by Bevans, and help solidify her incredible legacy.

Keep Up with Michelle Wheeler

Instagram: @shellyrunstheworld

Mentioned in This Episode

Black Unicorn Marathoners: blackunicornmarathoners.org

Team Bevans: facebook.com/blackunicornmarathoners

Roads to Boston series: womensrunningstories.com/home-2/roads-to-boston-9-runners-1-finish-line

Boston Marathon Expo Live Stage event, Sun., April 14, 2pm: “Making a Statement: Breaking Barriers in Women’s Running” featuring Briana Boehmer, Kelly Bruno, Alisa Harvey; moderated by Cherie Turner, Julie Sapper, Lisa Levin; presentation of Team Bevans takes place immediately following this conversation

Oiselle, the apparel brand rooted in running; made by women, for women: oiselle.com

Music Credits

Cormac O’Regan, of Playtoh

SergePavkinMusic, via Pixabay

Rockot, via Pixabay

Coma-Media, via Pixabay

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