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Photos: Paul Phillips / Jonathan Phillips / Competitive Image
Nearly 60 elite paratriathletes competed Saturday in the ITU World Paratriathlon Chicago presented by Dare2tri, showcasing an international field, including athletes from Australia, Italy and Brazil, among other countries.
The 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run event kicked off the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Chicago weekend, which features elite triathletes and 4,000 amateurs in addition to the paratriathletes. Athletes who raced on Saturday morning represented five different physically challenged divisions, ranging from wheelchair users to visually impaired, and they were thrilled to be competing in the heart of Chicago.
It’s a lovely venue, and it’s really well organized. I’m really enjoying the weekend,” said Christine Robbins (PT5, Canada).
The multi-lap course with tight turns on the bike was true to the ITU style of racing, allowing spectators a chance to see the athletes numerous times as they passed by Buckingham Fountain before finishing on the iconic blue carpet, known around the world for the most prestigious fast-paced triathlon events. The setup offered athletes a taste of what’s to come at the 2015 ITU Paratriathlon World Championships scheduled to take place in Chicago next September.
“As we get closer to Rio, these ITU events are going to keep getting smaller and tighter,” Jamie Brown (PT3, Carlsbad, Calif.) said after he won his division Saturday morning. “If I keep building up points, stay healthy and keep training hard, I’d love to represent the U.S. [at the World Championships].”
Paratriathlon is on the rise worldwide as athletes begin their journey to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The sport will be contested in Rio as part of the Paralympic Games program for the first time, offering paratriathletes a chance to compete for medals at the highest level of the sport.
“This is the start of my road to Rio. I’m doing the whole ITU circuit,” said Aaron Scheidies (PT5, Seattle, Wash.), a Michigan native who was excited to have a race close to home so family and friends could watch.
Presenting partner Dare2tri represented its hometown of Chicago well, with local Chicago athletes and club members Hailey Danisewicz and Mary Kate Callahan earning ITU World Paratriathlon titles in their respective competitive categories. Though the event represented athletes from 13 countries, the U.S. had a strong showing, picking up seven titles across the 10 divisions.
Races will continue on Sunday with age-group sprint- and Olympic-distance events, and the elite men’s race.
ITU World Paratriathlon Chicago presented by Dare2tri
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Male PT1: Bill Chaffey (AUS), 1:02:04
Female PT1: Mary Kate Callahan (Western Springs, Ill.), 1:32:31
Male PT2: Mark Barr (Houston, Texas), 1:1309
Female PT2:Hailey Danisewicz (Chicago, Ill.), 1:32:48
Male PT3: Jamie Brown (Carlsbad, Calif.), 1:07:45
Female PT3: Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.), 1:30:38
Male PT4: Daniel Stefan (CAN), 1:03:07
Female PT4: Clare Cunningham (GBR), 1:13:27
Male PT5: Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash.), 1:07:03
Female PT5: Patricia Walsh (Austin, Texas), 1:21:56