I did my first Bolder Boulder using a wheelchair today, and everything went well!
My husband changed my caster bearings out, and they really were rolling smoothly – no caster flutter on the downhills. I took the bare minimum with me – cell phone in a velcro pouch on the rigidizer bar on the back of the chair, a little pump taped under the seat, and my driver’s license (you never know, they might card you for beer) under my cushion.
My husband has a 10K time of 48-50 minutes, but he decided to hang out with me in the duffer wave this time, which was really sweet. Our daughter dropped us off. With over 50,000 participants, just getting to the right place at the right time is a challenge. We were none too early – by the time we found our wave it was starting to move towards the start line.
The race starts downhill, which was frustrating as the runners/joggers/walkers were so tightly packed that it was hard to get any kind of speed on. Within the next kilometer or so the people spread out some, but there was hardly ever a clear space in front of me. It was tough to pass on the left both because there were people there and because the cross slope was so challenging at the edge of the road.
Uphills were ok – if I was annoying people by being slow, I wasn’t aware of it, they just flowed around me. On one uphill, a woman ran up to me and asked, really nicely, if she could push me for a little while. “Nope!” I said, thanking her, “Then it wouldn’t be my time, would it?” She took rejection well. For the downhills I just tried to stay on the left and find the holes (which sometimes meant a lot of dodging and weaving – sorry, people behind me!). Sometimes I hollered out, “Coming up fast, make a hole!” but it didn’t usually work. Once I got to the bottom of a hill to find a guy had been drafting off me – that was pretty funny.
At Kilometer 8, I actually ran into a guy’s shoe – he was ok, and when I told him he was the only person I had hit so far, he said, “I’m honored!” I figure I’d done pretty well not running into anybody for 4/5ths of the race. I got some nice encouragement both from runners and spectators – sometimes people would call out my number, and I always tried to give them a thumbs up.
Other disabled people – I saw one woman in a manual chair being pushed by a runner right at the start. She had a National MS Society bag hanging off the back of her chair. Another woman was being pushed by her child, who had the Green Card (except that hers was pink) pinned to her back. There was a guy with two below the knee prosthetics. After the finish I saw another guy in a chair being pushed. I didn’t see anyone else doing the race in a chair independently, but in that large a field, that doesn’t mean anything.
I was really happy with how it turned out. My time was 1:20:44 (I was hoping for under 1:30). I smashed my thumb into my wheel lock lever a couple of times (definitely going to be moving that thing) and it was bleeding pretty good by the end, but I got it doctored up. I was surprised to find that I had blisters on my ring fingers (thumb, index and middle fingers grab the tire, ring fingers slide against the handrims). Other than that, no damage!