Seattle, WA July 29, 2014 - Aaron Scheidies, the 2013 USA Triathlon Paratriathlete of the Year, is back at it again in 2014. Scheidies, considered to be the top American Visually Impaired (VI) triathlete, has his sights set on the 2016 Rio Paralympics where Paratriathlon will have its debut.
The Seattle-based Scheidies has raced in three International Triathlon Union (ITU) races thus far in 2014 and has taken Gold in the PT 5 Blind/Visually Impaired category in all three of the sprint distance (750m Swim, 20K bike, 5KRun) races, putting him at the top of the leader board.
The Dallas PATCO Pan American Paratriathlon Championships were held on June 1, 2014 and as expected, it was a sweltering 90 degrees at race time in Dallas, TX. Scheidies had some early competition during the swim but with guide Colin Riley, pulled away on the bike and won by 4:30 in a time of 1:08:57.
In late June, Scheidies traveled to the Windy City, Chicago, for a World Triathlon Series (WTS) World Cup event. Scheidies called up professional and fellow Seattle triathlete Ben Collins to be his guide. The last time Collins guided Scheidies was in 2008 when Scheidies became the first blind/VI athlete to ever break the two hour barrier in an Olympic distance triathlon. The second time around did not go as smooth for Scheidies and Collins. The duo encountered a flat tire on the bike portion of the race. Luckily, the wheel pit was right around the corner and they had an extra wheel to throw on and continue. Scheidies started the race with a blistering fast swim, completing the 750m course in 10:06. He finished the race with an 18:02 5K run and crossed the line in 1:07:03.
"This race was very important race for me," said Scheidies of the WTS event in Chicago. "Not only did this catapult me in the world ranking for points, but in 2015 this race will serve as the ITU World Championships and is an automatic qualifier for the 2016 Paralympic Games for the winner. This race gave me a preview of the course for next year."
On July 19th, Scheidies traveled North across the border to Magog, Quebec Canada to participate in another Pan American Confederation (PATCO) race but again, not without challenges. One week prior to the race, guide Ben Collins was forced to pull out due to injury. In addition, while Scheidies was traveling to the race, the front fork of the of his tandem bike was cracked in half.
"Leading up to every race seems to be a bit of a circus show." Scheidies continued with a laugh, "It always seems to be related to the bike."
Despite the unforeseen challenges Scheidies had his best race of the year, finishing in a time of 1:02:45 and running a 15:14 on the flat and fast 5K run course. This result boosted him to the top of the world rankings, but Scheidies is not putting much meaning in to the rankings.
"I may be on top the rankings but this doesn't tell the full story and by no means does it mean I get to coast through the rest of the season." The 32-year old triathlete went on to say, "The best competition comes out of Europe and I have not raced against many of these guys who I will finally compete against at the ITU ParaTriathlon World Championships in Edmonton later in August."
Scheidies also added, "The newly implemented Staggered Start System has made things more challenging this year. I don't have a problem with a Staggered Start System but the current time factor is too much. ITU is aware of this and It will get changed, just not before the World Championships in Edmonton."
Scheidies is referring to the Staggered Start System aimed at leveling the playing field across varying degrees of blindness. Under this system, Totally Blind (B1) athletes start 3-minutes 43-sec (3:43) in front of the remaining Visually Impaired (B2/B3) athletes. Scheidies has been able to make up this difference and then some thus far in 2014 but he has his work cut out for him at the Grand Final World Championships in Edmonton on August 30th.
Scheidies is excited to see where the sport is heading, "Over the course of the past year I have truly seen a shift in the sport of Paratriathlon. In the past, it was seen from purely a human interest motivational story and now, competitors, media and sponsors realize that we are elite athletes racing at an elite "able bodied" level. Along with this, we are finally getting the blue carpet treatment that the other ITU elites get. This has truly been an awesome transformation and I can't wait to see what is next for the sport."
Scheidies Remaining 2014 Schedule:
August 3, NYC Triathlon/Accenture Para Championships, New York, NY
August 30, ITU ParaTriathlon World Championships, Edmonton, Canada
September 21, USAT Paratriathlon National Championships, Tempe, AZ
October 12, Chicago Marathon, Chicago, IL
About Aaron Scheidies:
Aaron Scheidies is a 32-year-old that has overcome more in his short life than many conquer in a lifespan. Born with a hereditary eye condition that slowly deteriorates his central vision, Aaron now has about 15% of the vision of a fully sighted person. Competing in the sport of triathlon for more than a dozen years, Scheidies began with sprint triathlon and has continued up the triathlon pyramid with 70.3 and full Ironman races. Having traveled around the globe and competing in nearly 200 triathlons, Scheidies is a seven-time triathlon World Champion and an eight-time National Champion. For more information on Aaron please visit www.cdifferentwithaaron.com and follow him on Twitter @AaronScheidies and on Facebook @CDifferentWithAaron.
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