RaceRunning Disability Sport
I’m always eager to take positive opportunities for my children when they arise. A few weeks ago I received an intriguing letter through the post from Chases old physio team at the hospital. The letter explained that Cerebral Palsy sport was organising a trial racerunning day at our local athletics club the Dartford Harriers. I want Chase to experience and take part in as many different activities and sports as he can, so was very excited to sign him up.
What is racerunning?
Race running is an amazing sport for anyone who has poor balance and difficulties with mobility. Runners make use of a special trike called a racerunner. These trikes have no pedals but still have a seat. They allow users to sit on the saddle and then use their feet to run. Racerunning is accessible to people who have very limited mobility and usually use an electric wheelchair for mobility purposes. Racerunning is growing in popularity and it’s hoped that it will soon become a paralympic sport.
As a parent I’m always thinking about my child’s future. In Chases’s case this is quite a lot more complex than my other children. My main goal for Chase is to find him something that he can do in adult life that becomes a focus and a hobby for his life. After attending the paralympic games in London 2012 I was determined I would find a sport that Chase would love and maybe one day take to paralympic level!
Racerunning gives even people with severe disabilities the opportunity to experience running for the first time. Chase uses a walker occasionally for physio purposes but his balance has become so bad now that he must be heavily supervised with lots of intervention to help him walk safely in it. Things like running are out of the question. When Chase saw the flyer of the bikes his face lit up and pointed to himself and then the bikes to indicate he really wanted to go. Chase has the best attitude for sports and loves to push himself to be his best. He’s also lucky enough to have met a few paralympains. One such paralympian Abbie Hunnisett used to attend the same school as Chase and also happened to pop along to the trial day.
We arrived bright and early to the Dartford Harriers track. Entering the club brought back so many memories as I competed with my school’s athletics team quite a lot during my secondary school years. Chase was the first to arrive and had such a huge grin on his face when he saw the bikes!
All the bikes to trial were provided by Quest88. Quest 88 make a huge array of therapy and inclusive sports equipment. The Quest88 guys quickly found the right size bike for Chase (Xtra Small!) and got him set up and adjusted. Chase was supported by a saddle and a body plate. His hands held on to the bars in front and he also had a Velcro strap at the back to make sure he couldn’t lean back and come off the bike. The saddle is lifted up quite high, I think this is so users can run on the top toes. I now wished I’d ask to find out the reason for sure!
And we’re off!
Chase did not waste any time at all running as fast as he could as soon as he could. Chase is generally a very happy person but he was so excited today, laughing and giggling the whole way round the track. He quickly got the hang of the steering and was great at pushing off to build up some speed. He lost his grip a few times and needed help putting his hands back in the right position but other than that was independent on the race track. You can check out a video of him running below
Chase loved the freedom he had and the chance to run so much that he didn’t want to get off after one lap of the track (400m) so he went round again, and again……And again!!! In total Chase completed over 7 laps of the track over the 3 hours we were there. That’s a huge amount of effort required on his part. This shows you just how much fun he was having. With a traditional walker we would be lucky for Chase to walk even a metre without someone having to intervene!
Chase LOVED racerunning and I think it’s a sport he’d be really good at as he gets older and practices more. It has the benefit of giving him the freedom to run which must feel so liberating if you have to sit in a wheelchair most of the day. Racerunning has massive Physio and cardio benefits too.
So our next step is to look into purchasing a racerunner bike. Roughly we’re looking at a cost of £2k. I’m going to get a quote done ASAP and then apply for funding to help with the costs. I feel something like this would be invaluable to both his mental and physical health.
I’m also hopeful that Dartford Harriers were inspired by seeing so many mobility restricted kids have their first experiences running. It would be fantastic if there was a racerunning club set up in lieu of this event. Unfortunately the current nearest club is in Hertfordshire – which is a bit of a trek to travel to for competing! Regardless even if we don’t have access to a club, racerunning is something we will be doing as a leisure activity in the near future!
If you want to find out more about Cerebral Palsy Sport, or the equipment used, check out the handy links below