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Let the Boston Marathon Para-Athletes Inspire You

April 17, 2023

Monday Motivation, Inspiration, Boston Marathon Monday

Susannah Sacroni – Women’s Wheel Chair – 2023 Boston Marathon Winner

I transported myself back to the starting line of the Boston Marathon this morning as I turned on the live 2023 race, six years after I stood in the same place in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. My heart rate increased, feeling anxious and excited, and my palms sweating even though I’m hundreds of miles away. I won’t forget the exact moment I started to run in Hopkinton knowing there was no going back only forward 26.2 miles into Boston.

The first competitors of the marathon are wheelchair athletes who can complete the race in under 2 hours (I ran it in 5 hrs+). As their muscular arms pump with blood, spinning thin wheels on their chairs, I wonder what it is like to race in a wheelchair. I know what it feels like running for six hours from start to finish in Boston but my sports heart wonders what para-athletes experience.

Shawn Cheshire (left)

As my friend Shawn Cheshire, a blind woman and one-time Rio Olympics para-athlete bicyclist attempts to climb Mount Everest today half a globe away, I decided I want to bike with her as blind as I can be one day to experience her life as an athlete. I know what the marathoners are feeling today because I’ve run in their shoes before, but never as a para-athlete in a wheelchair competing.

Climbing Heartbreak Hill around the 20-mile marker in Boston in 2017, I ran uphill with a blind woman running with her coach on my left, and a man with steel legs and his coach on my right. The moment running alongside them seared into my soul and arose again today watching the para-athletes competing.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – Boston Marathon 2017 Start

If I am committed to trying every sport once in my lifetime, I owe it to myself and para-athletes to try competing in their style of sport. Whether it will be with Shawn on a bike or in a wheelchair playing basketball or something else, I want to experience and write about what it is like to do sports their way.

I think able-bodied people like me should “walk-in” or “bike in” the races of our fellow humans. If you know someone who will show me the ropes in their para-athletic sport, let me know. It will become another golden moment for me in my pursuit to try all sports.

I echo what Scaroni said today as the winner of the Boston Marathon Wheel Chair Division, “It is a privilege to just be here and compete.” I feel that way every time I attempt a new sport too.

Memories – 6 years later
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