Monday, July 13, 2009

July 12 Courage

July 12 Courage, originally uploaded by NedraI.

The Boilermaker Road Race is a huge community event for the Utica area. You can feel the excitement in the air as the big weekend approaches. Thousands of people are involved as planners, sponsors, volunteers, walkers, runners and spectators. It takes them all to make this such a special event. The 15K race involves elite runners that finish the course in just over 40 minutes to community members who just want to say that they did it, even if it takes them longer than the official two hour cut off time. It also involves a special group of people that complete the race in wheelchairs. The wheelchair racers begin before the runners and the top racers fly to the finish line before the first runners cross the line. But other wheelchair racers soon find themselves mixed in with the runners. The Boilermaker is a hilly 9.3 mile course. I can't begin to imagine how difficult it must be to navigate this course in a wheelchair of any kind but especially a standard chair and then to be surrounded by runners and having to call out warnings must be especially challenging. As these athletes pass by they get an extra loud cheer from the spectators. Each year there is a wheelchair challenge. If a participant completes the race in a regular wheelchair in under 2 hours and 15 minutes the person is given a racing wheelchair. This year's winner actually took 2 hours and 18 minutes but that didn't stop the committee from awarding her the new chair. It's nice to see the rules bend. The rider was a woman from Ohio. It was the first time someone came from out of state to participate in the challenge. I believe these riders show great determination, spirit and courage.

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