July; World T.E.A.M. Adventure Race

I’m back from Colorado, where I participated in World T.E.A.M.’s “The Real Deal”, which was the first inclusive adventure race ever held. The race included mountain biking, rock climbing, rappelling, white water rafting, and orienteering, and sleeping on the ground for two nights which proved to be the most challenging, at least for me and a few other city type folks. Each team had five members, two of which needed to have disabilities, one of those who navigates life in a wheelchair.

Most difficult for me, even more than the fact that I had never done any of the sports involved, was being so untrained. I’ve been sidelined for over three months with this stupid tendon injury. I was clear with my team leader, Jim Bensen, that I literally hadn’t done anything aerobic in that long. He assured me, lying the way athletes do, that I would be fine. I wasn’t. The first hill of the mountain-biking segment (altitude-6500 feet) reminded me that training has a purpose other than making me happy. I knew I was in trouble when I had to get off the bike and walk on the first climb. I knew I was in even more trouble when even walking the bike up the hill, sucked the breath out of me. Given that a documentary was being made, every humiliatingly breathless step was filmed. Thankfully the other person with a disability on my team was Steve Ackerman who is one of the studliest athletes in the world. He and the rest of my team made up a bit for my less than stellar performance.

I wasn’t able to sleep in the hotel, the night before the race began and then not the first night on the ground, so after two nights with minimal sleep, I went looking for some Tylenol PM. I found a man willing to sell me some Quaalude’s. When I declined, he told me to wait, ran into his hut and brought out a huge jar filled with pills of every color and size. “Is there something in here that will help you sleep?” Oh brother was there but a few months from my 32nd sobriety anniversary, I declined again, and accepted that I might not sleep until I got home, which is what happened.

What also happened is that I was reminded during the race how critical it is for people with disabilities to connect with each other and to challenge themselves in sport. Some of the more recently disabled participants were new to “disabled” sports. They were able to compare notes, see how much better they will become at dealing with their disabilites, and see how much fun and excitement there is still to be had. Those without disabilites had that wonderful opportunity to gain perspective as well. We all, with disabilites and without, got over ourselves a bit more.

Look for the documentary sometime later this year, and read the Denver Post’s article at http://www.denverpost.com/sports/ci_9748215

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~ by lindsaynielsen on July 2, 2008.

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