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Swimming and Cycling and Running, Oh My!

NWABA team member helping participant, Kirsten French by attaching her race bib to the back of her shirt as guide dog, Knightley looks on.

Earlier this month, six athletes and three team members from Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) participated in the Columbia River Triathlon on August 12th at Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park in Vancouver, and helped raise almost $3,000 for our organization.

The NWABA athletes along with eight volunteer guides, participated in sprint relays consisting of a ½ mile swim, 12-mile cycle and 5K run. The teams were a mixed group of athletes—most of whom are participating in their first triathlon— NWABA board members and community supporters, along with three members of the NWABA staff, who each participated in one, two or all legs. The teams were grouped as follows:

Athlete and guide transitioning to their recumbent bike at the triathlon.

  • Miguel Viveros (athlete) & Robert Stewart (NWABA board member)
  • Lilian Goodman (athlete), Jodie Zelazny & Bart Hansen (volunteers)
  • Sunni Ricks (athlete) & Jim West (volunteer)
  • Avery Ingram (athlete) & Bob Hoffman (volunteer)
  • John Hinman (athlete) & Bryce Polonikoff (volunteer)
  • TJ Breitenfeldt (athlete), James Oneil (volunteer) & Megan Ahleman (NWABA team member)
  • Kirsten French (NWABA team member), Billy Henry (NWABA Founder, President & CEO) and Erik Selden (NWABA Board Chair)

Five swimming athletes posing for a photo before getting into the lake.To prepare the teams for race day, in addition to the participants’ self-training, NWABA held four triathlon training events in the Portland and Vancouver areas. Triathlon training was newly added to NWABA’s schedule of program events specifically to set athletes up for success by promoting realistic expectations, practicing event transitions, and building trust with their relay team members.

“This is our first triathlon in the SW Washington area and it’s a great opportunity for our athletes to compete in three sports that we offer within our own programs. It’s also a great opportunity for the community to see the importance of access to sports,” says Kirsten French, Programs Manager, Camp Spark & Sports Adaptations.

All the athletes and their race partners crossed the finish line with such a sense of accomplishment and were overheard talking about training for the next one!

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