How to Choose a Race to Do with Your Wheelchair

With so many races out there these days, how do you decide which to choose? As a wheelchair racer, you will have to take some things into consideration to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience. However, by answering a few simple questions, you'll be able to easily narrow down all of your options to find the perfect race for you.


WH0 . . . 

Races like the Color Run 5K can be more fun with friends!

. . . do you want to race with? Most races allow you to register as either an individual or a team. If you prefer to ride solo, it's best to choose races within your ability level. On the other hand, sometimes races can be more fun with friends. You can support each other in training for the race and you'll have someone who can share the memory with you (and take photos)! If for some reason you DO need a little assistance on race day, it is great to have someone you trust there to help.

WHAT . . . 

  "Tackled the Spartan 12-hour Hurricane Heat and Beast in Vernon, NJ, this weekend with my  Oscar Mike  family. 24 hours nonstop on that mountain. The chair didn’t blink."  -  Tyler Rich

"Tackled the Spartan 12-hour Hurricane Heat and Beast in Vernon, NJ, this weekend with my Oscar Mike family. 24 hours nonstop on that mountain. The chair didn’t blink." - Tyler Rich

. . . difficulty level are you comfortable with? Courses can vary widely, but there is something out there to suit everyone's preference! Some races are relatively flat, some are more hilly, and then again some are (literally) obstacle courses. Wheelchair racing might require some extra research prior to the event. Course maps and descriptions are typically available before hand, making it possible to check out the route to see if it's within your capabilities. 

 

WHERE . . . 

Digital racing bibs are often provided when you register for a virtual race. However, if you want the full experience, many entities give you the option of requesting a physical bib be mailed to you so you can wear it when you complete your distance.

. . . would you like to race? You can search the races in your community or broaden your search to faraway destinations. Have a vacation planned? Maybe there is a Fun Run or a 5K happening that would interest you. Disney Parks hold a wide variety of running events. Many zoos such as the ones in Sacramento and Saint Louis have races as well. There are even virtual races you can participate in if you live far away from any officially organized event. Websites like Virtual Strides help you find a cause you'd like to support and give you the option to participate wherever you want to!

 

WHEN . . .

   Jerry Goldsmith  lives in Florida and completed the Florida Hospital Winter Park 5K in January. He received 1st place in chair division and 4th place for men ages 75 -79.

Jerry Goldsmith lives in Florida and completed the Florida Hospital Winter Park 5K in January. He received 1st place in chair division and 4th place for men ages 75 -79.

. . . would you like to race? Hot temperatures are tough for all athletes. If you're in a warmer area, look out for spring and fall races, or even winter races if snow isn't a concern. If your disability is affected by temperature extremes, be safe and choose a race during a season that will be most comfortable to you. This is another situation in which virtual races could benefit you. You could complete your race at a time when the weather is most favorable to your ability.

 

WHY . . .

  "Me being awarded my 1st in age group . . . last Saturday. The race was a fundraiser for a local Down Syndrome support group . . . It was my best time yet and being presented the award by such a cute little guy was icing on the cake."  -  John Hollis

"Me being awarded my 1st in age group . . . last Saturday. The race was a fundraiser for a local Down Syndrome support group . . . It was my best time yet and being presented the award by such a cute little guy was icing on the cake."
- John Hollis

. . . do you want to race? Just want to have fun and push yourself? Great! Every race has that potential. Do you want to get a really cool medal to remind yourself of your accomplishment? Cool! Many races are coming up with fun medal designs and you can even see the designs before you race to help you decide. However, if you would you like to help out a good cause, there are a lot of options out there for you as well. Whether held by a local community organization or an extensive international foundation, you are likely to find a specific charitable event that is important to you.

HOW . . .

"I completed a 5K as part of the Buffalo Marathon with my son, Joshua, and my always-amazing Freedom Chair. I have cerebral palsy, so without the Freedom Chair there is no way I could have walked the entire course. The Freedom Chair has allowed me to do 5Ks and be successful. For me, it isn't about what place I come in: It is about finishing. I love to race and find it so exciting. I am a FINISHER because that is HOWE I do it!" - Brandy Howe

. . . far do you want to go? The same event usually has different stages of distance. There are often options ranging from a 1-mile "fun run/walk" up to a full marathon. Do not feel pressured to go too far. Choose whatever distance you are most comfortable with. Of course, if you want to step outside your comfort zone, there is no harm in that! Just make sure you have a supportive team. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure you have a great time and roll across the finish line with a smile on your face!


Once you know the answers to these questions, you can more easily use a racing search engine to filter your options and make your final decision. Here are a few to help you get started:

Active.com
Race-find.com
RunningintheUSA.com
VirtualStrides.com