NEW YORK – The Nautica New York City Triathlon hosted USA Triathlon's Accenture Physically Challenged National Championships on July 20.
After two years on the USAT/PC Race Series schedule, the event attracts top talent. Even in a Paralympic year when some of the nation’s best disabled athletes are busy training in other sports that will be contested in Beijing, triathlon’s National PC Championships drew the second-highest number of registered participants in the history of the sport.
Forty-six disabled triathletes took to the Hudson on a warm Sunday morning and soon found out that the usual "Hudson Express" currents that have provided quick swim times in the past were to be replaced by a school of jellyfish. First out of the water was Canadian above-knee amputee Grant Darby followed closely by five-time ITU world below-knee champion Paul Martin. Paralympian skier Sandy Dukat led the women to the dock with Kelly Bruno only 33 seconds behind.
Strong winds on the bike portion provided a relief from the rising heat but made for a technical ride on the newly paved Westside Highway. April Couglin, racing for the first time since a serious accident that could have ended her career, led out the female handcyclists followed by first-timer, Minda Denter.
For the men, San Diego's Oz Sanchez put up an amazing 1:13:57 to lead New Yorker George Gallego by 22 minutes going out on the run.
Above-knee amputee Scout Bassett, just off her second silver medal in as many years at the ITU Worlds Championships had a very rough day, she flatted once and wrecked twice but still managed to finish the race despite a mild concussion and bruised ribs.
A strong contingent of nine blind athletes were led by Lindsey Wright of Midlothian, Va. (2:53:02), Matt Simpson of Smyrna, Ga., and 2007 Ironman finisher, 65-year-old Charles Plaskon of Moriches, N.Y.
In the end, Paul Martin got up to finish first overall male in 2:34:05 followed by Oz Sanchez and a promising arm amputee Brandon Erickson of Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Operation Rebound, which helps returning wounded veterans get back into sport.
For the women it was Dukat’s day. She not only won the women’s above-knee title but bested every male (AK), nipping male AK National Champion Jonathan Bik at the finish line by 4 seconds.
2008 USAT PC National Champions
TRI 1 – Handcycle
Oz Sanchez, San Diego, Calif.
April Couglin, New York, N.Y.
TRI 2 Above-knee Amputees
Jonathan Bik, Sacramento Calif.
Sandy Dukat, Vail, Colo.
TRI 3 - Les Autre:
Beth Price, Headland, Ala.
David Kyle, Athens, Ala.
TRI 4 - Arm impairment
Carrie Davis, Spokane, Wash.
Brandon Erickson, Clovis, Calif.
TRI 5 - Below-knee amputees
Paul Martin, Natick, Mass.
Kelly Bruno, Durham, N.C.
TRI 6 – Blind
Lindsey Wright, Midlothian, Va.
Matt Simpson, Smyrna, Ga.
Click here for complete results