Vision-impaired Athletes Raise Awareness at Ironman 70.3
Photo/text by Carl Wagenfohr
How does a nearly blind athlete compete in a triathlon? With a little help from his friends. Ryan Van Praet, right, shares a tandem bicycle with his guide, Sydney Trefiak.
CLEARWATER - While the picture-perfect weather and record-setting performances by professional competitors Michael Raelert and Julie Dibbens gathered most of the Ironman 70.3 World Championship headlines in Clearwater last weekend, it's the efforts of two sight-impaired athletes that provided the inspiration.
Ryan Van Praet and Aaron Scheides competed with the assistance of guides provided by the C Different Foundation, an organization that was founded to inspire visually impaired people to lead healthy and active lives.
For the Ironman 70.3 world championship, C Different guides Matt Ryan, paired with Scheidies, and Sydney Trefiak, teamed with Van Praet, led their athletes around the swim and run legs using a tether, and took the front seat of a tandem bicycle during the bike leg.
Scheidies and Van Praet both finished the 70.3-mile event, Scheidies beating his goal of 4 hours 20 minutes by one minute, and Van Praet finishing in a respectable 4:43:52.
Van Praet, from Ontario, and Scheidies, from Seattle, participated in the event both as competitors and to raise awareness for the C Different Foundation. Visit www.cdifferent.org to learn more.
Van Praet was also competing to promote efforts to cure Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which in 2008 took the lives of his father, Adelard, and his Ironman inspiration, triathlete John Blais.
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