The first wheelchair race of the season, preparation for one of the bigger goal of 2013, the London Marathon, came after a winter of hail, snow, freezing temperatures and ice and yet more snow. My long training runs outside in thin lycra trousers, thick ski socks and three thermal layers on top plus snood under my helmet, were over, as I aimed to qualify for the Marathon with the help of Rick Hoskins, a wheelchair racing coach at Stockport Harriers.
The course at Silverstone is convoluted and challenging for wheelies and doubly so when Able Bodied runners (‘AB’s’) do their little dance as shown in the photo above in response to shouts of ‘Wheelchair! On your right!’ (Sorry number 2367!) when approached from behind.
Racing wheelchairs are silent machines, dependent entirely on the occupants upper body strength to strike the push rims attached to each back wheel and propel the user forwards. Stopping or slowing down means losing speed and having to overcome inertia again. There is only one brake attached to the 20″ front wheel, ineffective at high speed as it locks and skids and burns a hole in the expensive tub tyre. Another option is to use the gloved hands to scrub speed off directly on the back wheels, but replacements are £120 a pair…
Despite the dancing, I managed second place, with a time of 92:55, and was asked by Michelle Weltman if I wanted to do the London Marathon in March.