The Para Movement Hits London
My 2009 overseas series began with a ParaTriathlon demo super sprint in London, England. Yes, that’s right I traveled all the way to London to compete in a 30minute race. This race had some importance to it. The sport of triathlon is not yet a Paralympic sport but with the sport exploding and the 2012 Olympics/Paralympics taking place in London the time was right to begin demo races. The unique aspect of the race was that it took place in famous Hyde Park and we were racing on the ITU pro race course they will use in the Olympics. The race; a 300m swim, 10km bike and 3Km run. Finding a guide for this race was a bit difficult as I wasn’t gonna fly one of the regulars out for a super sprint. My first choice was none other than Matty “Boom Boom” Reed but that option quickly went down the tubes due to limited time between the men’s race and the Para race. Instead, I went with a local boy named Dion Harrison who gladly accepted the position. At 3pm on August 15th, Dion and I entered transition and racked the big red beast. IPC and ITU officials were all over the place enforcing rules that I had never even heard of. Dion must have changed his swim cap five times just to make sure it had the correct logo in the right position for the ITU’s enjoyment. There were nearly 50 ParaTriathletes from around the world competing in the race. Over the loudspeaker we heard “#7 from the USA Aaron Scheidies.” Dion and I took our position on the pontoon. As we waited for the gun, I shivered and tightened up. I hyperventilated through the short swim and came out of the water with a 30sec lead on the next competitor. With the race being so short there wasn’t much time to get away in the swim. We mounted the bike and attempted to hammer the technical and tight bike course.
Not long after we had begun the bike we noticed a Frenchmen hanging close with us. I thought to myself, “Ah crap I’ve seen this guy before.” I had raced this guy at World’s in Switzerland. He was a former ITU pro triathlete as well as Tour de France rider (so I hear) before sustaining a brachial plexus injury limiting the use of his right arm. The course was technical and not friendly to tandems. There was however one straight away that we used as our get -away zone. We peddled harder and harder but the Frenchmen would not budge. We managed to put 15sec on him around the first lap and then another 20 on the second to come into T2 with a 40sec lead. As I got off the bike and attempted to sprint my legs were cemented to the ground. I had never done one of these super sprints and pacing became a problem. Basically, I blew my load early and as we rounded the corner for the last 1K Dion noticed the pesky Frenchmen gaining quickly. I knew he had some wheels on him and could probably put down a 35min 10K. I reached deeper in the tank but the tank was on “E”. The Frenchmen made his move with 400m left and I had to response. It was heart shattering and humbling to watch someone other than myself take a ParaTriathlon win. The Frenchmen ended up crossing the line 50m ahead of us in a time just over 30min. I was angry because I am a competitor and defeat is difficult to swallow but we learn from our losses and come back and conquer next time. For me, next time would be a month later at the ITU Triathlon World Championships where I could capture the ParaTriathlon title outright.