I was in the Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney last Friday evening when my daughter Elaine was registering for the KAR. I rolled my wheelchair into the convention centre and approached a young lady member of the registration team. She looked totally surprised when I asked where the wheelchair registration section was. I think that it took about 5 seconds to realise that I couldn’t possibly be serious but those 5 seconds were absolutely priceless. I was really sorry that I did not have a candid camera to record the event.
I decided to pay more attention to the race and see was there any way that a wheelchair athlete, or a mobility impaired athlete, could take part and quite quickly realised that if it was possible it certainly would not be possible for me. Wheelchair athletes are incredible people and I have the utmost admiration for them. They take part in major sporting events such as the Olympics and other great sporting events and always acquit themselves with honour. To my way of thinking wheelchair/disabled athletes could only take part as a relay team
Here is my team:
Mark Rohan – Hand Cycling
Par O’Leary – Kayak (Well really canoe but I’m sure he could adapt)
Running – Oscar Pistorious
Here is the race from my viewpoint. If I were a participant.
It started with a cycle.
Tough going for me as I have difficulty getting on the exercise bike in the gym and then maintaining speed would also be problematic. Maybe the organisers would allow me an electric bike with stabilisers – balance issues would necessitate the stabilisers. The next section involved a short(ish) run before a kayak event on the Lakes of Killarney. Instead of running I could wheel myself to the kayak loading bay but I would have difficulty getting into the kayak and the only way out would be to capsize it. Then the reverse run from the kayak staging area over to Torc and it really begins to unravel for me. It has been said that a picture paints a thousand words well these pictures speak volumes.
In any event if a mobility impaired athlete were to succeed in reaching the top of the ‘Cardiac Steps’ the descent would undoubtedly be easy as it is all downhill. This is where Oscar Pistorious comes into the team as he would surely bounce up and down the steps. The next stage involves another cycle back to the Gleneagle hotel; park your bike and run, walk or crawl a short distance, then climb 5.5m up a scaffold, cross over the road and back down the other side and then another run/walk/crawl to the actual finish line.
To finish off this blog post Elaine finished it in 3 hours and 51 minutes and in the process raised money for MS Ireland. I was never sporty so at this hour of my life I’m not about to start.