Tag Archives: Triathlon

“Inclusive sport shouldn’t be something we have to fight for”

Kris is the founder of Wheely Good Fitness, which offers exercise classes for both disabled and non-disabled people in Herefordshire.

On the weekend, he and a group of 32 people, headed to Dorney Lake in Berkshire to take part in the Superhero Triathlon – the first fully accessible triathlon of its kind.

Here, Kris tells us about his experiences of the event, attitudes towards disability in sport and why sport for all is so important.

There is an assumption that just because someone is disabled they’re not going to want to do sport, which has an impact on the opportunities available.

Unless you live in a main city, there’s not really a lot going on. If we took away the need to segregate, everything would be accessible to everybody and we could all go to our local leisure centres and take part in whatever it is they are running. I run mixed ability classes and there is no need to segregate at all.

Health and safety is always used as an excuse. To me, health and safety is one of the most patronising things used to discriminate against disabled people. London Marathon, for example, only allow 12 places for standard wheelchair entries on the grounds of health and safety. It’s absolute nonsense. They can allow a guy to run in a tumble drier but people who use a wheelchair every day of their life are “not safe”.

Accessibility shouldn’t be something we have to fight for. Disability sport should be given the same amount of precedence as mainstream sport but you don’t see a lot of it and when you do, the coverage of it is very different. It’s not seen as being as serious or respected as other sports. It’s a shame. And if you haven’t got a huge demand [for specialist disability fitness equipment] you can’t reduce the production costs which makes it hard for people to get involved. It’s a vicious circle.

My clients like the social aspect of doing sport. Most of the groups become like a little family. They have a drink afterwards and a chat. Their confidence improves – not only from talking to other people, but they also feel they’re achieving things in the class, instead of their impairment being a negative thing.

Two people take part in the Superhero Tri
Two of the participants at Superhero Tri

Things are improving but it’s a slow process

I’ve been running my fitness classes for four years now. Things have improved in accessible sport but it’s an extremely slow process. There are more and more organisations out there organising accessible bikes and equipment hire. So you can tell attitudes are changing. I think disabled kids have an advantage now to grow up with a much more positive attitude towards themselves that people didn’t have 20 or 30 years ago.

We’re starting to see more inclusive events too. There’s Parallel London which is in its second year and that turned out to be really good event. I was really excited as soon as I heard about the Superhero Tri as were many of my clients. There is so much adaptation. The run can be done in a chair, walking or on crutches. The cycle can also be done in a chair, they allow people in power chairs as well. You can also have a buddy compete with you to help with direction, encouragement, support or balance, so everyone can take part.

The Superhero Tri was a great event

We had eight teams altogether and 21 team members. It was a fantastic opportunity for people of all abilities to compete. The event has an understanding of disability so you’re not having to fight to take part, you’re not having to get people to make allowances for you, you are welcomed for who you are and what you can do. They’re saying “you tell us what you need in order to take part” – that’s what’s so good about it.

A group of women in swimming gear pose and smile during the Superhero Tri
Participants in the Superhero Tri smile during warm up

I was excited to take part. The only thing I was apprehensive of was trying to get that many people together at the same time, without anyone dropping out. The majority of people were really excited, there are a few I could sense were apprehensive, but they really wanted to do it.

I tried to put teams together of people who work well together in my fitness classes, or socially, so they can encourage each other and feel good about their achievements. Whilst it is a competition and it’s timed, to me and many of the team, it’s really about enjoying it and doing the best you can and saying ‘I did it’.

Most of those taking part hadn’t done anything like this before. There’s a mixture of abilities – some are quite confident and some are new to my classes and actually this was a huge step for them to take. It’s a nice journey for everyone. It takes time to start believing in yourself and realising what you’re capable of.

It was a great day, the weather held for us and everyone managed to beat the nerves and turn up. Everyone did well giving everything they could to be the best they could be. The atmosphere was fantastic and everyone was high spirited and extremely supportive of one another.

We were asked by Channel 4 who were filming the event to demonstrate our Wheel-Fit aerobics class for their highlights programme due to air next weekend which was a nice surprise for everyone and, despite being between races, we managed to squeeze in 10 minutes between transitions to demonstrate what the class was about.

Kris and his team smile and pose at the Superhero Tri
Kris and his team were all smiles at the Superhero Tri

Supporting Scope

I’ve been involved with Scope ever since I started running fitness classes. If I’m doing anything for charity, I do it for Scope. Scope is a leading force in changing ideas and perceptions of disability and leading the way to a positive future for disabled people.

Sport is a powerful tool encouraging people to seek their true potential, capabilities and discover their strengths and weaknesses, whilst creating and expanding social lives for a more proactive and rewarding life. It’s not just for the elite, the super fast or the super fit, it’s something for everyone, that can benefit everyone through improved fitness, well being, confidence and social skills.

Sport can be empowering and character building and should be open to all. It’s time to remove the barriers and discrimination and open up the world of sport to everyone of all abilities and all backgrounds on an equal footing.

Get involved in a challenge event for Scope today. Whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or trekking, we have something for everyone.

As part of our mission for everyday equality, we are running a ‘Sport For All’ series to encourage better representation of disability in sport, as well as challenging attitudes towards disability. Find out how you can get involved with Sport For All. 

Read more Sport For All blogs

Andrew McDonald takes part in the London Triathlon for Scope

Scope chair Andrew McDonald is getting ready to compete in the team relay category of the AJ Bell London Triathlon series on 8 August.

Andrew, who will swim 1.5km in the race, will be joined by Finbar O’Callaghan, a consultant paediatric neurologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who will be doing a 40km cycle, and Jonathan Hoare, director of Investor Networks at ShareAction, who will run 10km.

The team has chosen to raise money for Scope and the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

Andrew, who is a trustee of the Cure Parkinson’s Trust, says: “None of my team has taken part in a triathlon before and so we thought we would begin with the biggest in the world, the London Triathlon.

“We wanted to do it for two causes close to our heart: Scope, the disability charity and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. Roll on 8 August!”

Mark Atkinson, interim Chief Executive of the disability charity Scope, says: “We’re delighted that Andrew, Finbar and Jonathan have decided to take on the London Triathlon for Scope and The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

“I know that Andrew will approach this challenge with the same energy and commitment he applies to everything he takes on. We wish them all the best of luck for the event.”

Andrew was appointed Scope chair in October last year.  He had a successful career as a senior civil servant, most recently as chief executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007 and has incurable prostate cancer.

Sponsor the team.

The toughest Ironman on the planet? Done.

Guest post from Scope fundraiser – and Ironman – Tom Partridge

On 8 September Pembrokeshire played host once again to Ironman Wales. 1,675 athletes from 40 countries took on the strength-sapping course and I was in the group of participants facing the open water sea swim off the coast of Tenby.

Ironman Wales is a 2.4 mile sea swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon all rolled into one. The race has quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most gruelling events in the Ironman calendar.

My motivation

Tom's broken shoulder
Tom’s broken shoulder

Ironman had been on my list of things to do for a while. This year I turned 30 and it was time to be good to my word and get on and do it! I figured that while I was putting in the time and training effort, why not raise some money for a great charity, Scope, along the way.

Training was intense, fun, tiring, testing, rewarding, boring, long and at times so brutal. I had to overcome a shoulder injury I’d had earlier in the year. I knew I’d need every bit to help me prepare for the physical and mental challenge of completing the mammoth distance in under 17 hours.

Raising money for Scope was a great motivation and the support and donations that have been generated have been PHENOMENAL. It was an honour to be sponsored, and to give other young people the chance to fulfil their dreams. Not completing was not an option! 

A great day

The swim transition
The swim transition

On the day, it could not have gone better for me. The swimming conditions were great and I felt ready after three days of preparing in Tenby.

The swim is always hectic with 1,600 people fighting in the water for the first lap. You only get into the rhythm on the second lap.

Legging it through town to the swim-to-bike transition was epic. People were cheering and I got high fives off supporters. Seeing my friends and family on the route was ace.

Then my weakest section – the bike ride. But the £400 bike I got from eBay did me proud. Painted in my race colours, we flew past the £5,000 bikes with their punctures and troubles.

My aim with the marathon was to keep going slow and to keep injury free. I went at a comfortable pace, waving to the family on each lap and revelling in the amazing support through town. My last lap was tough, but all the cheering sent me down the finishing straight.

So how well did I do?

Tom at the Ironman Wales finish
Tom at the Ironman Wales finish

I managed to complete the whole course in: 12 hours, 52 minutes and 5 secs. This put me in 489th place overall.

I am over the moon with my times and achievements of the day and also the amount of money I have been able to raise in the process.

I have huge amounts of thanks and praise to give to everyone who donated and supported me in reaching the current total, well in excess of £1,400.

In addition, I have to say a huge thanks to my friends and family for their time and patience during this process (especially Jo and Felix) and of course, the supporters and people of Tenby who made the 8th September one of the greatest days of my life so far!

If it doesn’t already sound tough enough to you, take a look at the coverage of the event to see even the elites struggling with the course.

Tom’s hard work and determination has meant that he has already raised more than his fundraising target and you can still sponsor him. He has been keeping a blog of his training and Ironman experiences, and you can look at all his images from the day on his Facebook page. If you’ve put becoming an Ironman on your list of things to do in 2014, we still have places available.

Are you limited by your challenges or are you challenging your limits?

When Team Scope member Mike Jones contacted our events team and told us he is taking part in the Ironman Sweden at Kalmar in August for Scope, we were blown away by his determination. Over the last two years he has attempted Ironman Wales but has been unsuccessful – any competitor will tell you that the exhausting event will bring out your weaknesses and for Mike it did just that. 

After enduring foot pain throughout the event, and following discussions with his GP, Mike was referred to a Neuromuscular Consultant who confirmed a long-standing problem that has been masked since child-hood, only materialising in his early 50’s. Mike has kept his own blog over the past few months as he trains for the event whilst searching for a firm diagnosis of his condition – he has recently had tests for Cerebral Palsy and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease – but here is an extract from his most recent post as he reflects on his latest endurance events.

From LLanelli to Eton, Nottingham to Port Talbot

I think my theme for the last few weeks must be “Another Town, Another Train(ing) race”. This has seen me travel from Llanelli to Eton, Nottingham to Port Talbot to take part in three endurance events in 13 days, some would say “burning my bridges” but it was something I needed to do. The first of the three was at Eton Dorney, this was for the Human Race Open Water Swim Series, the 10K swim. Looking back I was so glad that my open water training had started two months ago in North Dock, as even I would admit on the day it was cold.

Mike Jones

A six day turn around and it was off to Nottingham for the inaugural Outlaw Half, a Middle Distance Tri based in and around the National Watersports Centre at Holme Pierrepont. There were a few areas of my preparations that I wished to try out ready for Kalmar. So time was not a goal for the day, completion yes. The swim, which was a simple loop, went without a hitch. The bike leg went as expected and again the plan was to pace myself and not get carried away with speed / time if I was feeling good. The course was good, not flat but with only one part that could be classed as a hill. So on to the half marathon, well what can I say –  it started off well! However after about four miles the problems with pain in my feet returned so it was in to the familiar survival mode to ensure completion, which has been the normal now for a few events. This continuous stopping was (is) causing problems with me getting into any sort of rhythm. The positive is that I now know something about the medical condition that is causing this problem, so all I need to work out is a plan of action for future events.

A potential solution

One consideration is to change the way in which I tie up my laces, at present the use of elastic laces with my Pes Cavus feels that I am wearing an elastic band around my feet so not getting any relief. It was due to the number of times I was taking my shoes off to rub my feet that this style of laces where introduced, so going to replace with normal laces using a non-traditional method to lace up. Also what I am now considering is instead of pushing on until the foot pain becomes a problem is to build into my run plan stops to self-massage my feet before it gets to the unbearable pain level, this may mean a short stop at regular intervals no matter how I am feeling.

The Future

At present I am still confused over the results of the medical tests over the last few months, as all I am getting is the observations from these tests. What is confusing me is there is no definitive condition being diagnosed other than a “Neuromuscular Condition” which is long-standing – this term is so general it seems someone is afraid to put a tag on the condition. So the saga of “Atrophy of the Thoracic Spinal Cord” along with “Upper Motor Neurone” signs goes on and on and on. The wait for further appointments continues and it feels at present a race against time for me to plan for the future, but as the mantra goes “you’re never a loser until you quit trying”, and guess what my plan is. It is at this point I start wondering what and where the months will take me – I have a dream.

With little over 4 weeks to go Mike is clearly determined to take part in the event and give it all he can, firmly following the Ironman’s mantra “Anything is Possible.” We wish him all the best as he is also fundraising and running for Scope in the Great North Run this September.

If you’ve been tempted to take part in a triathlon or endurance event then make sure you check out what we have to offer.