In the collection of running stories First Marathons (by Gail Waesche Kislevitz) one-legged Dick Traum describes his early racing experiences in a delightful self-deprecating manner:
Now that I was an official member of a running club, I set my sights on my first race, grandly called the Second Annual New York Road Runners YMCA of Greater New York 5-Mile Championship. The entry tag had only a number—no advertising or bar codes, a reflection of the simpler days of road racing. I finished last with a time of 72:49. A CBS camera crew caught sight of me and ran a story about running the race with only one leg. The story was picked up and I became a local hero. In August of that same year I was ready for a half marathon. It was a hot day and again, I finished last in three and a half hours. Bob Glover, our trainer at the Y, ran with me and to cool me off, he kept pouring water over my head. As the race progressed, my leg felt heavier and heavier, but I attributed that to the distance and my fatigue. After the race, when I took off my prosthesis, a quart of water poured out, the run-off of Bob's attempts to keep me cool.
Again, the story of the man with the artificial leg running races made the headlines. I was deemed an inspiration. I suppose that was nice, but I wasn't trying to be inspirational, I was being normal. Every disabled person who does more than get out of bed in the morning and brush his teeth gets a large amount of support. One one level, we are just the same as any able-bodied person who undertakes the same activity. Disabled golfers are just trying to play golf, the same as a disabled skier wants to ski or a disabled runner wants to run. I didn't want to be the official inspirator. That role tends to make the person an outsider, larger than life, and I wasn't.
^z - 2012-03-14