Sunday, March 2, 2014


March 1st, I completed the Albany, GA Marathon ... with a brief intermission.  Not far from the finish, there is a big downhill ... and a VERY sharp (more than 90°) turn onto a relatively narrow path.  Handcycles do NOT turn sharply - especially when you are doing 25+ mph. I grabbed the brakes, shifted my weight and turned the least I could and still make the turn - all to no avail. In less than a second, the handcycle and I were our left sides, and slid into a metal retaining fence.  Initial impressions ... OUCH! Banged my left knee; scraped my left elbow (through a compression sleeve) and had a nose bleed.

After getting help getting the handcycle upright and me back in the seat (great effort by the Race Officials and bystanders!), I completed the last section of the race.  Not my best time, but I DID finish. Then I was escorted to the Medical Tent.  NOT real impressed - the staff seemed to be Basic First Aid only. Every other race I've been at had EMTs at the minimum.  Ice packed my knee; bandaid (a small one that didn't begin to cover the scrape) on my elbow and a kleenex for my bloody nose.

By now, my head was beginning to ache a little - what's up with that?  Maybe my helmet will give you a clue ...

Big chunk of the shell missing; several deep creases where I hit the metal retaining fence; and a lump on the side of my head where I think the helmet bottom dug in.

Later that afternoon, I began to find (mainly because they started to make themselves know) other little bruises and scrapes.  My gloves saved my hands - but they are both worn almost all the way through the leather. My left shoe is worn almost all the way through the side, and my compression sock has a hole worn through it corresponding to a small scrape on my left ankle. My biker pants have a hole in the left hip area, and there is a bruise there. My right thigh has a large bruise where I probably hit the hand crank on that side.  I am generally sore all over even after hot and cold soaks.

Albany Marathon (like many other races I have been to) does not require protective gear.  I wore mine anyway.  If I hadn't, I would probably be in the hospital with a cracked skull - if not worse.  I will be blunt - you are a FOOL if you are in a racing chair and NOT using at least a helmet! 

My time suffered because the "flat" course they advertize is anything but. It is almost all rolling hills with a couple that are long climbs. About the 5 mile point, my upper derailleur decided not to shift to granny low, making it a lot of grunt work to get up those hills. I started manually shifting the chain over for the worst climbs.

High points - VERY friendly people cheering all the way. Uncle Sam's Misguided Children (USMC) out in force - 2 or 3 at every intersection. Ooh-Rah! I had my personal escort (I was running 3rd place racing chair) - an Albany PD officer on an ATV. We had a great conversation during the race, and he encouraged me on the hills when he saw my derailleur had stopped working. At the 24 Mile point, there was a tailgate party set up in a yard with people watching the race ... I was offered a Fat Tire Amber to go, and an invitation to come back and join the party after I finished!

Will I 'run' Albany again - YES (and I will be wearing a helmet)!