Thursday, April 29, 2010

Physically Challenged Division at the Cooper River Bridge Run?

I am currently working toward getting a Physically Challenged Division established at the Cooper River Bridge Run (CRBR) for 2011. Mr. Ken Ayoub, the Recreation Director for the Town of Mount Pleasant asked that I give him a little information to take to the Executive Committee for discussion. Here is the bulk of my email to Mr. Ayoub; I have edited some personal info out of it:
I was also very excited to talk to you about the possibility of expanding the Cooper River Bridge Run to include a Physically Challenged athlete division. This thought came to me as I ran my first bridge run as an amputee this year and saw the amazing effort the bridge run committee does in bringing wheelchair athletes to the race.
Personally, it would be my opinion that physically challenged athletes would simply be placed in whatever time corral they are suited for, and then the chip would make separating their times for placement a simple thing at the finish, same as we talked about with age group awards. This would help minimize start and finish problems such as a slower amputee being in the way of elite runners.
I know such an effort takes time, coordination, and expense to make it successful and best left to those who have experience to make it work. Here are some people I personally know who can assist in getting this project rolling, who have experience with challenged athletes and who can answer many of the questions the Bridge Run Committee may have.
Mr. Mike Lenhart:
Founder and President
The Getting2Tri Foundation, Inc.

I attended Mike’s National ParaTriathlon Training Camp this past March; I can’t say enough about his organization and the athletes he has been able to help through some of the most difficult challenges we could face. Mike would have a wealth of information he could share with you as well as many contacts with race directors and athletes. His organization also serves as advisors to race directors who choose to include the disabled in their events.

Getting2Tri Organization:
Getting2 Tri National Camp:
Mr. Larry Wiley:
Certified Prosthetist (CP) and partner with Maurice Johnson of Floyd Brace

Larry is my prosthetist and is currently setting up a local high activity group for disabled athletes. It is likely we will have at least 10 participants from this group alone for next year’s race. Larry has contacts within the prosthetic industry as well.

There is also a number of high profile and elite challenged athletes that could make this event the premier distance race for physically challenged athletes of all abilities, such as:

  • Amy Palmiero-Winters:
  • Brian Frasure:
  • Kelly Luckett:
  • Tom Martin:
  • Jason Gunter:
  • Sarah Reinertsen: 

  • … just to name a few.  Most have extraordinary speaking skills and their stories would be inspirational to hear. There are also several other organizations who could inform their athletes of the event such as:

     …and many others.

    I imagine once word get out that physically challenged athletes will have their own division at the CRBR, it will be a hugely successful addition to the race. I believe these athletes will be inspirational to the less active able-bodied community and help them see “if they can do it, then I have no excuses not to do it either.” There is a wide array of resources out there, and I think the committee would be pleasantly surprised with the support it would receive from the challenged community.

    Thanks again for your time and please let me know if I can be of any further help or assistance. If you wouldn’t mind, please let me know if the Bridge Run Committee will be considering this request or deciding to proceed or not. I’d like to start telling the disabled community about it to get them to prepare for next year’s race!


    As of today I have not received a response to my email of 4/15, but given the responsibilities of the director's office it is a little early. I/we (Larry at Floyd Brace and others) intend to stay on top of this as the sooner it is considered the better, as I am sure planning for a race of this magnitude does take time and we'd like to see this new division in 2011.

    Wish us luck, and disabled athletes, stay tuned and get ready to register!


    Since I did not receive a response from my email, I filled out an online form on the CRBR site and I got a positive response!

    "We will most definitely look into this for next year!  Thank you and please stay in contact with us!"

    I sure hope to hear more about this soon, and I'm keeping my eye on the CRBR site for what I hope will be an official announcement in the upcoming weeks or months!


    1. This is a great thing to do and I'm sure that there should be some support from National Running Associations on this kind of thing, maybe? Could be a twitter campaign, too? Keep at it, you do a fabulous job!

    2. What can I do to help? Just let me know, the Bridge Run should absolutely offer this to individuals living with disabilities. And your suggestion with the chip timers makes this an incredibly feasible option--- let me know how I can help-- petitions? phone calls?? e-mails?? I am definitely game :))))

    3. Hi Ian,

      I think they are very open to this idea; the wheelchair division has been very successful for the athletes and the event. I will definitely keep your ideas in mind. I do not believe the committee has met yet to discuss this, but I intend to follow up and will let you know if some additional help is needed...thanks so much for your support.

      - Richard

    4. Madeleine...thanks for the offers to help! I think the chances are very good this will happen, but I will certainly ask for your assistance if I think the committee could use some additional input. Thank you for being so thoughtful!

      - Richard