And while the Times Colonist website shows the wheelchair results for 2006 and 2007, the 2008 do not. That includs me (and the fastest person at the 10K: Al Bergman in 25:53 – or as my friend at the parapelegic society said to me today, “We (wheelchairs) have to be a separate class, they (runners) couldn’t stand up to us…no joke intended”).
AND Times Colonist made the correction on my name (I called in), so I am no longer Dr. McCluns. The correction article can be seen here.
Due to the encouragement and support (and the free cookies), that everyone has given me on here regarding the Times Colonist 10K, I am trying (again) to get certified and to rent/borrow a racing chair, so all the readers and people who comment - you DO make a difference, a big one, in my life. Though as many people have mentioned to me as I have called around trying to get in contact with the various groups that I need to join or be signed off/assessed by, many people remembered that Rick Hansen would compete in Road Races like 10K’s in an E&J chair which looks VERY similar to mine (without the oxygen). But it seems that Wheelchair BC, Canada has gotten serious and organized and if they have a chair that goes faster and are willing to lend it, who I am to say no?
Before I go on to two different responses I received via email about my TC 10K, let me recap on my day: I was woken up for a blood test (after fasting). After that I was told to pee, prepared to pee but was told (in high volume) NOT to pee as the water had JUST shut down. Instead small test tube was held up (At which point I said, “You seem to have GROSSLY overestimated my aiming ability”). It seems I was to pee and then freeze the sample at home. Thank goodness the home care which takes out freezer packs to cool my neck is not coming tonight. After that two people came over, watched me eat and commented for 90 minutes (a “swallow specialist” and a dietician?). It seems that my tongue is weak and I need to a) stop losing weight or look forward to the g-tube (???) club and b) I have to chew more than other people and drink more through straws.
Now back to two responses:
The first is from Neil in Sask who is a regular reader and decided to “ride along” even though it was –3 and did the 10K “with me” on his bike,
a sort of unions of spirits over distance. Which I think is pretty cool and thank you for the literally support (in that you went out and did something, and did 10K!). Though I think he might have done 10 MILES, or is a VERY slow biker.
The second was sent for publication on this blog but I thought it would not get the attention from the care which had gone into it simply letting it plop to the bottom of the comments of a post a few days old so here it is:
Congratulations on finishing the 10k. It is an impressive accomplishment.
I would however like to rebutle some of the comments you have made regarding the TC10k:
- Entry Form should have a place for wheelchair registration. (I agree, but it did not, and Linda made a handwritten box)
- The race does not hate mothers or babies. There is a safety concern with strollers and that many people participating. That is why they must start at the back. (Explanation of wheelie humor about hills and baby strollers eludes me)
- Wheelchair start: Were you registered as a competitive wheelchair racer or recreational? It is clearly stated that rec. wheelchair athletes must start in the ActNow Walkers Zone. The only reason for this is so it doesn't get crowded if athletes pass the wheelchairs. Generally wheelchair athletes are faster and that is why they go first, much like why elites are at the front. (also because while runners CAN go sideways, wheelchairs cannot, which is why they are put in front; the third wheelchair competitor finished in just under 50 minutes)
- "Inspiration" whats wrong with people saying that. I wish people told me I was inspirational. I guess they say it because not many wheelchair athletes take part in the event, so those that do...should be in 'inspiration' to others. (anyone.....)
- If find your comments about elites to be rather shocking. Runners take pride in their sport and in order to be 'elite' you must be physically fit. For running this requires a very lean individual. Saying they look anorexic is very discriminating and I am suprised you would make such comments. (This was a very popular joke after the race actually, and having been both in years of training toward ‘elite’ running AND being years of anorexic, it is well known (at least in marathons) of the fine line between ill health and optimal).
- Not moving over when asked to clear the road was also somewhat disrespectful. Yes you are trying to have a fast time but so are those 'elites' at the front. And for the safety of the hundreds of runners it is courtesy to move aside if you are being passed. If you finished in 60mins. You should be starting by the very large sign that says 60mins. You should not be starting with the other wheelchair elites. They are going under or low 30mins and that is why they are in front to begin with. (Please go to Times Colonist results for previous years and review times of wheelchair finishers, or to BC wheelchair athletic classification and review expected finishing times of T1’s and T2’s. I was asked to ‘clear the course’ because the person in question was unaware I was a participant)
- Your comment about the bad news of lots of people. If you knew this was the 2nd largest 10k in Canada and you don't like being around other runners, why did you join the 2nd largest 10k. Why not choose a smaller less populated race? (???)
- Why is this a messed up town when people congratulate you? I do feel some people get the wrong idea, especially the guy commenting on how he didn't want to be beaten..great work gettig him though! (???)
- I am very shocked to hear how the first aid was and that definately needs to be dealt with. That must have been horrific. It seems weird that you couldn't communicate when you had been joking and yelling the whole race? Clarification please? (please reread post:“because I hadn’t really been able to talk for the last km or so…”)
- You also have to give them credit for VOLUNTEERING their time and excuse them for making a mistake while 8,000 people are cross the line and it might be a bit overwhelming. (Jason was being paid. That’s what a private consultant is. And I said, “Jason is not my favorite guy right now, in fact all the "Not my problem" people are not my favs, I did like the volunteers who did a great job (okay not ALL the first aiders), and cleaned up so much trash and helped in so many ways.”)
- Perhaps if you knew you have a condition, you should have had someone who knows your condition there at the finish to support you or helps the first aid attenders better help you. (Crips are allowed to travel alone. I did have a first aid kit with care card, ID and all medical needs in a pack under my chair (as mentioned). I don’t actually “plan” how my conditions manifest or when. Nor am I required to act beyond the actions of any other runner in preperation, the wheelchair is a mobility device, not a "I am a more caring, careful, and obligated to find multiple people to help me" device.)
- For prizes for the event they can't give everyone a medal or prize. I bet they would if they could. I definately agree there should be male and female wheelchair awards, by why not bring it up after the awards, not before while they are trying to frantically get everything sorted. (because they did announce there would be male and female wheelchair awards, right here under Awards and Catagories: “Awards are given three deep to males and females in: Overall, Masters, Wheelchairs…..” Since I would have to wait an hour and a half to receive the award, all I was inquiring was, do I? Then we got into the Wheelchairs have no sexes….)
- Toilets. That is tragic that there was apparently only one wheelchair accessible toilet, however the placement near a cut-away curb might be the fact that it was the only place they were allowed to put it not to just mess everyone up. (Since it is clear you do not know where the wheelchair toilet was, there was an entire half block of toilets then atop a hill, at the top of the stairs, a wee little disabled one. I am curious on your seperation between “Wheelchair accessible” and mess up “everyone” – are there two species? Also, would there be an outcry if there were NO toilets (not no wheelchair accessible, but NO toilets at all on the race course? Maybe? Think they might be a wee pissed….or rather not able to piss).)
- Jason definately did not need to share his last name and you had no right asking. He was there to volunteer and devote his free time to helping people out. He definately did not need you accusing him of being sexest. I am sure he did not make the decision himself or on the spot at that moment. I'm suprised they had an extra medallion to give you. They probably took it away from another category. (No, Jason did not need to tell me his name, and I have the same right as every human being at a public event to ask. He was not a volunteer, or at least that is not what he told me. Hmm, it looked a lot like they did make the decision on the spot because they forgot, or decided in the moment to go with the ‘wheelchairs have no sex thing’, I don’t know if I would call him sexist, I think I was indicating strongly he was discriminatory against people in wheelchairs. And since the women in chairs were to be given awards three deep, I wonder which category “took it away” from the women who finished?)
- top fund-raiser: I am sure if they were the top they received recognition. I hung around and anyone who was the top received an award. That person may have been exagerating. (Well, I can only judge by the jumping up and down in frustration, the smoke coming out of their head, the verification of the person with them and the small and quite polite muttered near swear words which occurred at the phrase, “And that concludes the prize presentation portion of today’s race”)
- TC Booth: This really ticks me. The girl at the booth is just a peon in the TC world. How could you accuse her of not knowing anything. She was probably just a delivery girl getting paid to handout the paper. The TC is merely the title sponsor of the race. They have little to no involvement in the organzing aspects of the race. That would be like asking one of the girls at the Island Farms tent about the race. They are just there to hand food or papers out and congratulate people on completing the 10k. You were barking up the wrong tree. she had the right to smile and nod and not say anything. (Hmmm, so then the Save-On arena, if groups decided to hold “white only events” would be right in saying “we only provide the money, we don’t make/influence decisions?” She was not the delivery girl, or if she was, it was a very well dressed and authoritative delivery girl; but rather since the TC was in charge of promotions, I think it was someone connected to that. The TC advertises it, lists every run, maintains the official webpage, is the email contact, is the online registration, and is one of the four people on the TC 10K organizing committee. I can see they have little to no involvement.)
- Photos: Now this is a big no-no. That is EXTREMELY disrespectful to those people. You have taken photos of VOLUNTEERS who are DONATING THEIR TIME for FREE. How dare you mark them with your words and then post pictures of them most likely without their consent. Spreading ill thoughts about those people who are trying to make a difference. I AM DISGUSTED by this action. (Actually according to the police taking a picture at a public event, particularly for reporting purposes (passing them on to the BBC for the piece there) does not require permission or consent. Please feel free to call the police to verify this. I am heartened that you DO feel outrage and that you DO feel that people can receive disrespect. I am sorry that it isn’t for the way wheelchair racers were talked about and treated.)
- Money: no there wasn't money for wheelchair. Maybe if you were an inspiration and the wheelchair category grew then money would be added. There wasn't money in the kids race or for other age groups. There has be a line somewhere. (Yes, that line used to be with the blacks, wasn’t it, then with the females? But as you say, I am not inspirational enough. If you look at the results for wheelchairs for the 2006-2008 you will notice that less and less wheelchairs participate every year. Sorry I wasn’t there inspiring them. Now the HBC Canada day 10K on almost the identical course, does not have the same number of people, but is able to give prizes in EACH category including cash prizes for both the top three MALE and FEMALE wheelchair competitors.)
- The money is there to hopefully help support those athletes that running is their life. If people complain about not getting money at events for everyone then no one will get any. (Oddly, people who use wheelchair have a life too, they have athletic careers too. Just people like you, and people on committees don’t seem to understand that. Well, until we are in a wheelchair, and then we understand it ALL too well.)
- That is also disrespectful to say it makes sense the race wasn't organized by females. Maybe it was. Now who is being sexest? (That isn’t what I said (go and reread please), and thanks for telling me you are male.)
- Perhaps if things did not go smoothly they will work on it. If it said coming soon and was here then it is obviously new and has kinks in it. Maybe you should try to be on the race committee and organize the wheelchair race. However chances are if you donate your time to the event you wont get to race. Maybe you should think about how much time and effort everyone put into the race and provide constructive criticism rather than just shoot down the whole race, race commitee, volunteers and even the participants. (Again, I see that this is the fault of me, wow, if only I could be in so many places at once AND get the medical tests and work I need done. It is not NEW, as the results from previous years have show, and that aspect, after I commented on it, disappeared today. So now, wheelchairs aren’t coming soon, they didn’t exist (not on the webpage and not in the online records). I would love to be on a race committee, however I am still working on getting more people into wheelchair boxing, wheelchair badminton and other events that a large number of men and women (more women!) with a variety of disabilities can easily access. But once that is taken care of, I will, instead of passing on suggestions to the volunteers to take to the committees, start being on the committees themselves. When, I ask in return, will you be on the committee to pass legislation for a disability act in the city of Victoria?)
I hope that this does not offend you but just helps you take a lighter note on the situation and I hope that you approve this message for others to read. I would also like to see your opinions and reply to this comment. (I have attempted to give you my opinions and I find it interesting that you call this “the lighter note” while I was the one making jokes about people spreading lawn killer on me. I can assure you it will offend and will address that in a moment.)
Congrats again on doing the 10k and definately don't think you should let this discourage you from racing it again. It is an amazing event with an amazing atmosphere.
Anonymous racer (I am keeping my identity anon as people always take offense when no offense is meant.)
Dear Yours truly,
You have presented the view of Victoria that I wished I could have shown for the past year. Thank you! Your incredible condensation toward people in wheelchairs, your animosity toward me in particular in blaming me (and other wheelies, or just me) for everything from stealing awards for those who worked to earn them, insinuating I was lying about my vocal abilities in the first aid tent to “disrespectful” behavior toward able bodied runners by not going clear off the road for them, to calling someone working a job a “peon”, to your “disgust” toward me, my actions, my “disrespect” to someone who told me to “go away now” by….telling others? This all and more, your blaming of people in wheelchairs and with disabilities that it is THEIR fault when first aid or doctors do something wrong because THEY should have made….er….that their ‘keeper’, their ‘assistive person’ was there to ensure that THEY did not get, what, the same medical care as they and others paid for (It was a $40 race for 6 miles). The use of language which seperates wheelchair users from “everyone. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
This IS the voice of Victoria. This is Victoria in a nutshell and this is why we don’t have ramps or access because wheelies are “disrepectful” or “taking from others” or “not thinking about the other people” or whatever reason it is that we lag behind the rest of the western world standing alone as a nation having no disability act. And act which would have made an example of Jason and the TC by saying “You don’t treat people with disabilities THIS WAY, they are equal to you, you treat them with respect. You provide the EQUAL accommodation for their needs as you have for your own.” And I hope in reading this response, you will achieve enlightenment and pass it along to others in Victoria. And if you want to know why “inspire” is not such a nice word for wheelies you could a) have read my blog or b) talk to someone you know and ask them how often they are told they are “inspirational”, “plucky”, “couragous” – because that would produce something.
Getting upset at someone in a wheelchair because they don’t talk or act like you want them to, well, that really isn’t going to solve the problem long term. And there IS a problem in this city. I guess the question is, do you want to help solve it or simply remain part of it?
Two points of view. Personally, I liked Neil's!