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 . . .
. . . 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 . . .
. . . 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 . . .
. . . 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 . . .
. . . 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 . . .
. . . 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 . . .
. . . 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!