U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics

Paralympian Sandy Dukat Sets Amputee Marathon Record

Jan. 20, 2009, 3:33 p.m. (ET)

From oceans to mountains to deserts, Denver's Sandy Dukat continues to conquer the world.

The former U.S. Paralympic swimmer and skier added another world record to her tally Sunday, setting the international standard for above-the-knee amputees at a marathon in Arizona.

Dukat's time of 4 hours, 40 minutes, 46 seconds at the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Phoenix shattered the previous mark held by teammate Sarah Reinersten of 5:27:04, according to her team.

"After the 20th mile, I definitely did a lot of praying," Dukat said of the 26.2-mile race. "The last few miles were kind of a blur."

Dukat, 36, already owns a triathlon world record for above-the-knee amputees, set at last year's world championships in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is a two-time world triathlon champion and a three-time Paralympic skiing bronze medalist in the slalom and super-G.

But Sunday's race was her first marathon.

"My coach put the plan in place, and I followed it," Dukat said.

She trains with Team A Step Ahead, a New York-based squad of amputee athletes coached by Dave Balsley. Teammate Amy Palmiero- Winters, who paced Dukat in Phoenix, holds the world record for below-the-knee amputees.

"It really excited me that with some experience I can get under that mark," Dukat said.

Her next goal, she said, is to break 4:30, perhaps at the Chicago Marathon or Denver Marathon later this year.

"It's one of those things I've always had in my head as a challenge," Dukat said.

Dukat was born without a thigh bone and had her right leg amputated when she was 4. She went on to become a world champion in the 400- and 800-meter freestyle events as a member of the U.S. Paralympic swim team from 1997-99.

She moved from Chicago to Winter Park, and then Vail, as a member of the U.S. Ski Team from 2001-07. She won two bronze medals at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002 and another in Turin in 2006.

After retiring from the U.S. Ski Team in 2007, she moved to Denver and started training for marathons in October. Less than four months later, she was a world-record holder.

"She's very modest about it all," Palmiero-Winters said. "I think it'll be a long time before someone comes along to challenge her. She's a dominating factor."

Dukat said the next competition on her schedule is the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco in June.

"I'm impulsive. If it comes up and seems like the right time, I'll do it," she said.

Nick Groke: 303-954-1015 or ngroke@denverpost.com

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