Monday 27 October 2008

Another day, another triathlon

We saw a most amazing thing this morning. For the third time on our trip we found ourselves at the location of a major triathlon event, but this was a triathlon with a difference. The San Diego Triathlon Challenge is a half-ironman distance event raising money for the Challenged Athlete Foundation.

We went along this morning expecting to perhaps see a few wheelchair athletes, but as soon as we started looking round the transition area it was clear that the amount of carbon fibre in the bikes was almost matched by that in the high-tech prosthetic limbs.

As the athletes emerged from the water it was amazing to watch a range of new techniques for getting from beach to bike. Very few athletes had both legs, many had none (mostly those athletes were carried by helpers from the beach up to transition, a few could run on the remaining parts of the legs, we saw one athlete crawl from the water to transition). At one point a girl stopped just beside where we were watching and asked the people beside us if they would mind passing her leg which she had left leaning against a nearby bench.

The commentator clearly knew most of these amazing athletes and was able to give some background stories - an athlete from Afganistan who lost both legs on land mines, and ex serviceman who lost most of the right side of his body, etc. The most amazing athletes we saw were a quadruple amputee (who did the swim as part of a relay team) and a 70 year old who had a leg amputated after being run over by a rubbish truck a few years ago.

It was really inspiring to watch as those taking part were making the most of what they had and were all clearly enjoying the experience. Sometimes it is the most unexpected things which leave a lasting impression and I think we will all remember watching the amazing athletes we saw competing this morning.


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