Sunday, April 27, 2008

The TC 10K 2008, I go to Slapstick First Aid, the fight to have a gender AND use a wheelchair

So we were prepped and rolling out at 7:40 am and arrived at 7:50 to the starts (Race starts at 8:00 am). Officially, the application form had no box for “Wheelchair” section (I had to write mine in) even though there were already three females listed as “Wheelchair” in the online registration. Oh yes and Mr. Soot did made the journey down with me on a thing they gave me to go around my neck (it is blue, look for Soot-san in pictures!).

We were supposed to line up behind the women with babies in strollers, by which I can conclude that a) someone at the TC was a moron or b) they hate babies? Anyway, we asked a few people holding “Ask me” signs and they looked at their paper and it said the times and places for every group from elite runners on down. Nothing about wheelchairs. I had my electronic tag chip on my shoe (placed by a volunteer), my number pinned and we were talking to ANOTHER volunteer when I heard on the speakers, “That’s right folks it is now only 30 seconds is the start of the Wheelchair race, these wheelchairs always prestart…”

What? Well you could have told ME! I started pushing through the crowd to where I knew a gate was and we are about halfway there when I hear over the loudspeakers, “5….4…..3….2…..1 and they are AWAY! What an inspiration these folks are…” (Why do they ALWAYS say that?) And I start screaming, begging people to PLEASE get out of my way and to get the gate opened, I mean they STARTED my race I am still in the crowd. I got the 5 people in front of the gate to move and then begged them to open it and then I booked over the start line, about 2-2.5 minutes after the start of the wheelchairs. Damn.

After that it got kind of odd because there was a full kilometer of uphill to start with, and second because after I turned the corner, this looked a lot like normal wheeling (except now I was all emotional and full of adrenaline) with no one around. So between strokes I put on the Mp3 player, picked my tunes and got out a drink of Gatorade (which I then found I couldn’t open, the stupid plastic wrap! Found a volunteer to do it later.). And then keep going as hard as you can when you are all by yourself and there are a bunch of volunteers and people watching you shouting, “Go!” and you feel kinda stupid because, it is just you. I had just made the first corner, about 2/3rds to the first km, when I heard the blip of the police siren right behind me. I of course looked and then ignored it. It was the police lead motorcycle and there was a cop with a mustache and he pulled up next to me and said, “You need to clear off the course, the runners are coming.” And then pulled ahead.

I was stunned, Fuck dude, I AM the course! Apparently no one had told him that there were wheelchairs in this race or that there might be someone in a wheelchair that a) had started late and b) wasn’t in one of those multi-thousand dollar clamshells they call racing wheelchairs. Anyway, the pack of 14-16 booked past me and I am wheeling as hard as I can because I do NOT like to be passed. And there are people passing me like no ones business. Not like one or two but dozens ever second. Because it turns out that 12,000+ people came to the Times Colonist 10K (here is a pic of the end of the "runners" streaming out, Linda is waiting with the 'walkers' though she jogged 6K). I just said to myself, “It’s the uphill, once you get on the flat things will get better.” Well they didn’t, people just kept passing me, like crazy, even on the downhill! I mean, these WERE the people planning to finish in 30 minutes so I guess I shouldn’t have let it get to me, but it did.

Of course, every time I saw the police drive by in the motorcycle (since we did a 2.5 km down a road and then back in the opposite lane), I would flash him the victory symbol, except it kept getting reversed, so it was fist towards me with two fingers thrust upwards. That’s not rude I hope? And I would say loudly, “Here comes the fuzz, pretend we’re not jaywalking!” Which got a laugh.

I did see the lead wheelie in his clamshell and gave him the true victory sign along with “Go Wheelies!” and then to the guy in second as well. They were cooking. And then came the lead runners (because they had run down and now while I was still going down, they were running back). I have seen some people put in anorexia wards who looked healthier than these guys. Apparently seeing a skull instead of a face and having sticks for legs is “elite” – who knew? Good news is that in months/years, I might get to be “elite” too!

Okay the BAD new about having several THOUSAND people around at all times is that is a lot of peer pressure. First, unlike wheeling on your own you don’t stop and have a drink. I don’t drink on the go because our roads are so bad that I needed both hands to navigate. Plus, I could only listen to one ear of the tunes because of so many erratic runners. I can tell you that after FINALLY cruising past some people on a downhill, I deeply regretted that wheelchairs only had one gear because I was ready to put it in second and leave those people behind.
“Go wheelchair girl!”, “Go Wheelchair”, “Good job.”: that’s what I heard every second. And several times I was PASSED by people over sixty, once by a woman over seventy all who said, “Good going wheelchair girl.” This is one messed up town when it comes to jogging. Twice I heard someone go, "Hey Elizabeth.” Or “Hey Liz!” (must be someone from the boxing class). Before I went up the BIG Hill I pulled off, had a big drink and put on my oxygen and then put my MP3 player to “Paint in Black” (in french). And then it was the fast assult, the three pushes a second until you are just adding more and more speed to the wheels which are almost too fast to push. That was the hill I screamed on. And cried. Damn if I was going slow down, it wasn’t like several hundred people weren’t watching (see if you can spot Mr. Soot!). Only two hills did I cry on and that was the first and the one after it, the second. I cried because I was in PAIN. But that’s just a body reaction like the inability to sit up anymore, it is to be ignored and onward! I cooked up the hill and I was, thinking, Geez, this is a LOT faster than I practiced. But everyone was still running past and every time it went downhill I would catch a few and then came the BIG downhill (1 km). There was a couple who told me, “Only downhill from here.”

I said, “Uh there are those uphills near the fairgrounds!” And they swore.

And then I started shouting, “On the left!”, “On the right!” and “Coming Through!” so often that I was hoarse by the end of the race (I shouted it HUNDREDS of times). I had to assess who wasn’t totally plugged into music and find a space near them and then shout coming through. And we are about 12 abreast and I am going at least twice the speed of everyone else so there was a LOT of shouting. I had a little flag so people BEHIND me could see me.

Linda asked me what the hardest kilometer was and I said it was the 8th to the 9th. I mean, I did the hills, and here we are in James Bay and everyone is going my pace about and I am SO tired. And every little uphill I have to get the Drill Sgt. Voice in my head to keep up the pace. There was one guy who passed me with a “Good going wheelchair girl!” at km six and who I smoked by on the downhill and he passed me on another uphill at km seven and I passed him again between seven and eight and he was PISSED. It was no more, “Good going wheelchair girl” it was “Damned if I am going to finish behind a wheelchair!” So of course, I did everything humanly possible to stay with and pass this guy. Also there were about eight or nine females that I hung with and we kept passing or passing each other and I would make jokes like, “That street going up at that 15% angle up there, that’s a downhill right?” The last kilometer was a slight uphill and the stupid people who THOUGHT they were going to be elites and then walked for a while sudden decide they need to run REALLY fast for the last km where everyone can see them making it all the more hazardous to me. But I saw the big clock and the guy who wasn’t going to finish behind a wheelchair was behind me, and I pushed across, doing the long stroke I call the “swimming stroke” on this long but minimal uphill (because the stroke, if you let your arms extend after doing it is like doing the breast stroke).

Well, that’s actually when it got exciting because I hadn’t really been able to talk for the last km or so, and I wheeled on another 25 meters or so past the finish line and then sort of rested. And I tell you, how many runners stop and lean on a post 25-50 feet after a 10K? A lot! Me? Within about 3 seconds I was hustled into the first aid tent (or as I now refer to it, the tent of surreal slapstick medicine).

The first thing they did was put me next to a GIANT space heater. Even though I was making lots of hooting and I am sure the parts of my face that could move were looking terrified. I indicated that they get something out from under my chair because I was already on a cot (transferred at some point). They got out the pack with the two snap-ice packs and the ID, and medical numbers. I got out the ice pack and ALL they had to do was SNAP it and shake it to make it freezing. But all five of them got in a flummox and no one bothered to read the instructions and after some debate they decided to cut it open and sprinkle the stuff inside on me. The stuff inside is Ammonium Nitrate – the stuff you kill lawns with, which is why it says in bold letters on the front “DO NOT OPEN PACKET”

When I told they guys at St. Johns ambulance later they killed themselves laughing. I had come to do a “where were you?” on them because it seems the EMT’s are out on the course were they think the heart attacks will happen and so the trainees are left with the tent by the finish as a sort of “see lots of people, and lets see how you do.” I kept drifting in and out. St. Johns said that since I don’t sweat, once I stopped my cooling system (going forward quickly), I went into heat exhaustion almost immediately. Plus, I couldn’t actually sit up for the last 3-4 km or so. I TRIED, but was going to fall out of the chair so I kept my breasts on my legs and wheeled from there.

Well, back at the amateur hour they had decided that I was a) deaf (because I couldn’t speak clearly maybe?) and b) diabetic. I have no idea how they arrived at the last one. This one woman kept slapping my face and telling me to breathe and open my eyes. I do, and what to I see, a guy ABOUT to inject me with a syringe of insulin (Now, Neil says this is not so, but I know what a blood suger tester looks like and I know what a pen syringe full of insulin looks like and what he had in his hand going toward my arm was the latter). A hoot of terror and he backed off (St. John’s said that with my Reynaud’s the blood sugar at my extremities would be low anyway, so that would just send them down a dead end). I did manage to write “Autonomic Failure” and “Reynauds” at which point one woman says, “Oh, you’re a secondary school teacher at Reynauds! That’s great!” Huh? I am writing my medical conditions, not having a chat!

Anyway they brought in two first aiders who “knew sign language.” So I tried to fingerspell “Shock” because my body was doing it’s tremble thing. They didn’t know the letter S. Then they wanted to know who to contact. They asked, signing BOY, “Do you have a boyfriend?” So I nodded but signed, “I have a GIRLfriend.” The two of them looked at each other and said, “She’s confused.” Then signed again a few times, BOY, going “You have a BOYfriend?” And I signed back, GIRL. And then made the sign for marriage and pushed up my glove so they could see the ring. Well, that caused another tizzy as they weren’t sure what to do, but they understood my partner was out on the course and wanted to know here name. They got L, they didn’t get I, they were stuck at N. N is two fingers pointing down with your thumb tip separating it from the rest of your fist. It LOOKS like an N. Anyway they guessed Linda and then did the whole, “Should we put the call out for Linda McNult?”, “They might not have the same names.”, “what if we ask for someone called Linda who knows Elizabeth McNult to come to the first aid tent?” At this point I tried to fingerspell my last name. They couldn’t get M. I got another first aider to get me a pen and wrote out McClung (it is the name of a LIBRARY in town!). It is also on my medical card and the ID I carried in the ice box under the chair AND on my number pinned to my top.

Meanwhile first aiders had been placing bags of ice on my eight pressure points, like…my wrists, my ankles, my knees and so I gestured for them to give me the bags (the break ice bag, I had confiscated back and broken and shoved in my bra) and then stacked them all on my vagina, except one for my neck and torso. Reynauds isn’t a high school, okay!

At this point I went into either lactic acid or shock spasm, where all my muscles that I knew of went into total spasm and deadlock. I can’t see anything, all I can hear are these two terrible sign language first aiders go into full panic screaming for scissors as they plan to cut ALL my clothes off me. I just bought this top yesterday, and the exercise bottoms last week! Finally the real trained guy showed up and told them to take a chill pill and held them off until the spasm passed and then wanted to know if I wanted a drink; I did. Water (no), Sugar water (no), your Gatorade (yes!). “Do you need a straw?” he asked and I nodded and didn’t want to let go of his hand because he was the only person in that tent who seemed medically sane (little was to I know that instead of sitting me up and opening the Gatorade and putting in a straw they chopped a hole in the top of the Gatorade lid, put in a straw, then sat it on my lap where it fell over and covered my legs with Gatorade – so between four ice packs on my vagina and Gatorade elsewhere I looked like I “lost control” BIG TIME by the time I left that tent).

Anyway, Linda showed up, I was in the chair and she got me out of there as fast as could be (away from the heater). We went and got cookies and orange juice and stuff like that and took a post 10K pic of me and Soot-san! Then I started questioning people about HOW many wheelchairs started at the start exactly? Most people could only remember 1 or 2, maybe 3. They told me to talk to the blah blah organizers tent. Cheryl had arrived and I sent Linda home to shower and recoup and I was off to find out if I needed to hang for an hour because I had happened to be in the top of my group in Wheelchair class? I mean, free prize, being called on stage, these are not things from my competitive experience (well a little in epee – just not the prize). And if I get it by DEFAULT, well, hey, I showed up, not going to pass on a free prize! We finally found the “Volunteer’s Tent” and the wheelchair toilet, which was atop a flight of stairs in the middle of a full city block with no curb cuts for at least a hundred yards. I pointed out that having ONE wheelchair toilet in such a location might be not really “accessible” and they wrote it down for the “meeting afterwards.” So I mentioned that SOME mention either a) on the website, b) on the race packet, c) on the newspaper full page of the race events the day before or d) on the packets given to the volunteers themselves on where and when wheelchairs should be would be handy.

They pointed us to the “organizer and prize tent” So we went there and I have to say that the idea of a prize for wheelchair racers seemed to flummox them (I found later it didn't exist on the webpage either), or the woman in charge organizing the prizes specifically. They found the sheet of competitors and said, no, no prize because I finished fourth. I looked at the sheet and pointed out that the three ahead of me were all MALES, so that means I was the first female wheelchair finisher, right? This caused some confusion and I was told that no, in wheelchair, only the first three get the prize.....they were pretty sure.....yes, just wheelchairs.

I asked if they gave prizes to the top three finishers of FEMALE running racers? Well, yes, of course. And even if they finished after three MALES had finished? They looked at me as if I was crazy, “Of course, what does that have to do with it?”

“Well, see, according to this sheet you have here, I am the top FEMALE wheelchair competitor.” This is when they said that the though that prizes were for “Olympic wheelchair racers” – which I was waiting for because apparently because I didn’t shell out a couple grand for a 10K, I wasn’t “competiting” in my five grand titanium chair. So I had to wait another hour for the awards to find out what they would decide.

So Cheryl and I went to St. John’s ambulance and told medical stories with them, as they had a ramp. They thought the whole thing about “Wheelchair class doesn’t have sexes” was so funny but SO Victoria, especially when Cheryl in that dry wit drawl of hers said, “See, ya gotta turn them over, like kittens, to find out the sex…” They admitted even buying a ambulance bus with a ramp was an accident (they had never planned on it, it just sort of came with the bus), so bad is disability rights in Victoria/Canada. So time for the awards and it was pelting and I was under the tent with some other people (who had raised like tens of thousands for Stoke/Heart research and were the top fundraisers - they didn't get an award either, though they had been promised one) and I eventually asked, “So am I going up, am I getting an award or what?” and the woman conferred with Jason (in blue) who was the guy in charge and it seemed the decision was "No."
But then I made a little skit where I asked if people with legs who ran (and did a little running person on my arms), would be getting prizes according to the gender? And there was a look and a mutter and then the woman shoves a ribbon with a piece of medal on it. And I take it and put it on my lap because this really hasn’t cleared up the issue with me about why wheelchairs don’t have a gender split which they are saying is like “the age classifications.” While I am puzzling how the top 40+ age males is equal to “all wheelchairs” when Jason says quite clearly, “Look, you got your medal okay, so just go away now.” And I was just speechless because, well, I haven’t been spoken to like that since, I dunno 7th grade?

So I went next door to the Times Colonist Booth where the Times Colonist representatives were and they said that they had no influence over policy particularly the “There is no gender in wheelchairs,” and that the TC just fronts the MONEY. I said, "so the Times Colonist 10K run, and I write a $40 check to the Times Colonist Run and you have no influence." Nope, she said, they just contribute the money.

Well, I said, maybe you could bring it up at that review meeting you are going to have after the race (the ones the volunteers told us about). She said she definitely would.

I said, that’s odd because when we talked to the head of the volunteers about something to bring up at the meeting, they wrote it down on a piece of paper and you aren’t writing anything down at all. She just put on her, “This isn’t my problem smile” and stared at me (and wrote nothing down). And I eventually went away, which is what she wanted.

So I went back and got my camera and started taking photos of the people and then went and asked nice as pie what the guy who told me “you got your medal….go away”, what HIS name was. It was Jason. What is his last name. Now Jason, perked up at this and said (I quote), “I am a private events coordinator, I don’t have to give you my name.” And wanted to know what this is for. I said, this is for an article for the BBC, because there are over 10,000 wheelchair paralympians coming to our Country, of which this is the largest 10K running event at the capital of our province and they might be VERY interested to find out that they don’t HAVE a sex, that they are “wheelchair.” And that maybe in the Paralympics which will be held but a little bit away, in just over a year, in the 10K, if all the males in wheelchairs are faster, will they be the only ones to get medals and presentations?

Well, Jason and this woman who appeared started to explain there was this whole thing where they keep calling the wheelchairs a “classification” and then a “division” and “only the winners of “classes” go on stage because there is money involved.

“So there is NO money for winning in a wheelchair?”

No. Yet, by my logic, if we were but a division or a class or a whatever and just part of the “bigger whole” like “children” (because actually the top children actually DID go on stage and get awards), then wouldn’t the fastest, whether in the “child” or the “age 40+” group win the event? And since a wheelchair beat the fastest runner by five minutes shouldn’t the MALE in the WHEELCHAIR be getting the money? And if not, then shouldn’t they be acknowledged as a different “class” and be given public awards instead of a few minutes of TV and the world “inspirational.”

At this point I had all I needed for the BBC piece since they were saying that no, no THEY had nothing to do with the decisions that was all done by Diana Hollefreund who wasn’t there and could only be reached online (how..typical). And was elected by the board. Well, who was on the board?

I was told “over 40 members” – when the website, which also says about the “Wheelchair race category” that it is ‘coming soon’, that there are seven members (some of which I think were there right then!). By the way it turns out that for males and female runners you get money awards up to fifth place (and up to third in the over 40 class) in BOTH male and female – wheelchairs, gender or not get nada.

We headed home and I asked Cheryl why the Breast Cancer 5K could have so many more disabled toilets while this one had NONE at the start, NONE along the way and one poorly placed at the end. Cheryl said, “Because the Breast Cancer 5K was organized by women.”

“That actually makes sense.” I said.

Now, this may seem like sour grapes to you that I made such a big stink about the wheelchair issue (or being handed this medal with no marking on it all at). But I expect to show up and have five women to compete against, they were registered and had paid. Several dropped out. Probably because they thought it would rain (which is hell in a wheelchair). I don’t know why, all I know is like someone said at an Epee competition, when someone finished 21 out of 21; one woman pointed out, “no you didn’t, you finished 21 out of 24, because 24 people signed up to come.” So I find out that not only did I beat my time for the 5K by doing the 10K in 68 minutes (I passed the finish clock at 1:05, I was 2-2.5 minutes late starting but it seems they started my chip because I was a wheelchair while in the crowd or something so I am listed as 1:10). So I am happy about that because I tried really hard.

And if there was no award because other people got it or I didn't qualify, fine. But if you tell me that Wheelchairs don't get specific awards (when runners do) and then say that three guys are getting some award because there is no difference in sex/gender once you are in a wheelchair; that pisses me off. When you tell me that wheelchairs are “different” and don’t get presentations or money, even though they compete, they pay TO compete (the same as runners), and that I should take my piece of metal you gave me calling it a "medal" and “go away!” THAT makes me mad.

And when these are the same people who will likely be ON committees making decisions about wheelchair athletes (who they obviously don’t see us as – since Cheryl said they never once talked to me as if I was an adult), that makes me mad. This is the second largest 10K in Canada. If there was ONE woman in the 40+ class running and she finished, she would get a presentation plaque and a cash award. So why, it is because there weren’t 20 or 30 wheelchair today? Or that there are less wheelchairs than signed up does that make our efforts less? What makes us as athletes less? Or us as competitors less? As for Medals, Screw Bronze and screw committees and Jason of no name who play the “Someone else’s problem” game to avoid what is discrimination (I take it there wasn't an award for the white and 'coloured' runners as might have happened 100 years ago in Victoria). Wheelchairs are not “coming soon” as the website indicates, we are here, we WERE there, and all that shows is that the Times Colonist, the Victoria International Running Society and the city of Victoria STILL are not ready for us. When, I ask, when?

Oh, and yes, I am VERY, VERY sore!


Wheelchair Dancer said...

Yo, GIRL!! You ROCK. Congrats on your finish. The ABSOLUTE Best


Neil said...

Oh good, it wasn't St. John people who tried to stick you. Slapstick indeed!

Perhaps you should be on the organizing committee for the paralympic games. At least there'd be one voice of sanity, with experience in being both a wheelchair user and FEMALE. And sensible.

I suspect there were very few public relations people involved with the organizing of the race.

The wheelies' division started in back last year, and this year it was started first as always??? I'd have been demanding my entry fee back, instead of insisting on a medal.

How do we find the BBC pieces you write, please?

Three cheers for you and a raspberry for the organizers!

Now, when does the plan for world domination come into play?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on winning! You should get a cash prize for dealing with No-Name Jason and the medical stooges, in addition to the prize they should have given you already.

Just got caught up on your past few entries...more great Japan pictures! Glad to hear the deer and monkeys were relatively well-behaved. That belching Homer Simpson monkey on the sign is endearing, somehow.

Also? Those inner voices are filthy, stinking liars. Finishing your Daibouken, then training and participating in this race so shortly thereafter is pretty damn impressive, as is blogging about it. (But get some rest!)


Perpetual Beginner said...

Christ on a pogo stick - was the entire clueless contingent out on parade? My seven-year-old knows what to do with an ice pack, and probably would have been more useful to you than that tent full of "first aid" people.

And boo, hiss to the organizers. Apparently they think people in wheelchairs are a different species or something. Maybe wheelchairs come with an extra set of genitals, rendering all users hermaphroditic? Or, more likely, they think that a wheelchair comes with an automatic spay/neuter like adopting from the Humane Society.

You, on the other hand, are awesome. Way to rock the race!

I second Neil's motion to put you on the organizing committee for the paralympic games. Decent sense is in amazingly short supply in the world. It seems a shame to waste yours.

Victor Kellar said...

I was laughing so hard at your descripitons of the inept health care then realized Hey, this is person't health at stake .. its truly scary.

Congrats on the race, sounds like you kicked some butt. It would be nice, when you know you are really pushing yourself, that you could have some faith there were people at the end who could actually be of some help to you

The inept orgaization does not shock me. Collette and I are involved with a breast cancer walk/run here in sept and there seem to be many so many ineficiant policies in place, just for the sake of having them in place.

qw88nb88 said...

Maybe the wheelchair people aren't awarded the same because some dipshit thinks there would be no way to get them up on the stage to hand them their award plaques and shake their hands!

And thinking of the piss-poor "first aid" tent, remember, half of the people are below-average in common sense.

cheryl g said...

Yeah Jason was a condescending jack ass but the guys with St John's were pretty cool.

How's the soreness today?

Dawn Allenbach said...

First, for Cheryl -- that kitten comment was freaking hilarious.

For your finish -- HOORAY!!!

Wheelchairs and gender -- Someone forgot to inform US that we are no longer gendered once we're in the chairs. And that Jason guy -- someone up there please find him and punch him in the nethers. Go away? GO AWAY? Not on your life, pal. In fact, this non-gendered gimp is going to write some letters to the organizers of the run and the Times Colonist, and she'll -- sorry, I forgot I have no gender -- it'll be quoting you. Oh, and I'll be writing my letter in crayon since, judging by the way you treated my friend, you think all cripples are children.

Dawn Allenbach said...

Neil -- We should start planning world domination now, don't you agree?

Dawn Allenbach said...

Oh, do you write on Ouch?

Lene Andersen said...

Reading the first part of this post made me so proud of you. Way to go, Beth!

Reading the middle part (slapstick medicine) made me wince in horror and laugh.

Reading the third part made me nauseous. I didn't know anger could hit my stomach like that. Looking forward to the BBC piece. Which I think you should then submit to your largest newspaper. Or a running magazine. And the paralympic committee.

Wendryn said...

Congratulations on finishing! And on dealing with the idiots in charge, of course.

Veralidaine said...

I think Linda is very right about events organized by women! A comfortable place to pee just isn't a male priority, wheelchair or not.

And GOOD GRIEF! Do you know where those trainee EMTs are studying? You should give them a call and mention that they might want to add "COMMON SENSE" to the curriculum. Or perhaps just teach the Hippocratic Oath- first do no harm, by sprinkling ammonium nitrate on you and giving you unnecessary insulin injections? WTF?

And the clueless event organizers.... poor them, they'll have nightmares about- how awful- a person who just can't seem to choose between 'female' and 'wheelchair!' Guess third gender isn't just in Japan.

I'm going to go bash my head on my keyboard!

Gaina said...

P.S. I just looked at the results for this years race on the website - Linda gets a mention (congratulations) but you don't!


kathz said...

Congratulations - I'm so pleased you made it, but a bit worried about the absence of sense, intelligence, thought, empathy, etc. from the first aiders and the organisers. Please post a link to your Ouch! piece as soon as it appears - I don't want to miss it.

And I hope you make a good recovery from the exhaustion of the race.

You are amazing!

Elizabeth McClung said...

WCD: thanks, I am glad I finished, and I am even more glad that Linda rescued me from the first aid tent!

Neil: No, I like St. John's, indeed, I try to convince my caregiving agency to have thier people take a St. John's first aid course.

I did apply for the new govt. division on disability in relationship to the games but, again, they wanted people who could do full time plus overtime.

Actually the TC was supposed to be doing the public relations, and today in the paper they published my results as "Elizabeth McCluns" - which is odd since on my number 11628 it says McClung, and on the check they took it says McClung and on the first aid tent records it says McClung. Anyway, they didn't include ANY of the wheelchair users in the on-line results. Why is unclear.

Actually now, after the event they are saying that "pushed wheelchairs" should start at the back, which isn't what they were saying before...whatever.

Um, I was going to make a collection on here of the BBC pieces, so I guess that in a strong incentive to do so.

If I can conquer Canada (or even) Victoria, the world will be easy.

yakiikaonastick - actually there IS a 10K on July first that HAS money prizes for wheelchairs. Wow. But July first and heat intolerance.....hmmmmmmm. Glad you got caught up on the trip, did you get the very boring not at all rumor starting postcard I sent you?

Rest.....everyone keeps using this word, is it German or something, I don't understand it.

Perpetual Beginner: I suspect neurologist in family might induce higher "common sense".

Dunno about the sex thing, I knew I became "non-adult", childlike and all that but sexless? I was just glad I finished the race, which I wouldn't have without all those people peer pressuring me into it I think.

Lene Andersen said...

p.s. Cheryl - that kitten remark had me howling. So, so true.

Ruth said...

Congratulations! Love your medal.

First female wheelchair racer-awesome. YOu know I competed for years in wheelchair sports and saw the female categories sometimes done away with and was sent to the men's division - or one big lumped division. As a result I am delighted to see you bring attention to the blending of gender in wheelchair sports in certain events.

Also regarding prize monies- woefully inadequate or nonexistent for wheelchair athletes who often have MORE equipment and costs to pay for.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Victor: But slapstick IS when it is happening to someone else! I am glad it came across funny becuase it was in retrospect - I mean, sure, cover me in acid, that will solve one problem.

I guess, from what the St. John people said this will happen if I do any other races (the heat exhaustion, not the being assumed deaf and threatened with clothes cut off!)

Yes, and the strangest thing is actually trying to find a person who made a deicision and ask them what there were thinging seems impossible it is always "decisions were made"

QU88nB88: Ironically they HAD a ramp to the stage in order to get the BAND equipment up there.

I think I should have somewhere on my front - "First rule: do not panic" in every race for when I need first aid.

Cheryl: I was up every hour and for many hours every 20 minutes in pain, but got some sleep between all the pain and pills, not so hot this morning as I passed out on my careworker (who did not know I was task 2 for oxygen AND was put on hold when trying to reach the nurse - haha, love Beacon).

I like the St. John's Crew - I called the TC and told them I am McClung not McCluns - apparently I was on TV yesterday as Elizabeth McCluns too.

Dawn: I freakin finished! Horaay. Admittedly about 20 minutes behind the slowest male wheelchair racer but still. Yes, the "Now go away." comment was the sign on a class act. And respect and equality.

I try to write once every two week for ouch - that is my schedule, it is just the Japan Trip threw it off, but I've been writing for them months?

Lene: Yeah, the race was a positive sports experience, and I admit, I didn't really care one way or another if I got a mention or whatever until the whole, "No gender" and "Wheelchairs are all teh same" and "You got it so go away" thing. Turns out that the BC wheelchair sports association, which is an SCI association knows when the start was and where, but I guess they wanted to keep it a secret?

Veralidiane: Well, you just made me laugh about yesterday, which I couldn't do yesterday so kudo's to you! Yes, the whole having to choose between female and wheelchair, didn't know that was my choice. Is this what they mean by disabled identity? The problem with the first aid is that small (or large) assumptions (like that I am deaf) cannot be cleared up because I can't communicate and so accumulate to the Nth level.

Gaina: Linda did very well (for a "walker" - ha, I told her she has no excuse not to join the runners group now). It seems the TC has not included ANY of the wheelchairs, including the one that finished in 25 minutes (which would be first) - why I do not know.

Kathz: I was very happy the crowd swept me along and I finished, since it is a self preservation thing in sort - how much pain can I endure to assist my body improve circulation (obviously getting applause and free cookies is better than doing by myself) Thanks for your encouragement. I hope the recovery is good too, I never thought I would be able to do a 10K so, who knows.

Ruth: The medal, do you want it? I can't say I am emotionally attached to it (I wish I had used it to whip around at Jasons' head to be perfect honest....but then I'm the polite one).

Thanks for your comments on the female aspect of wheelchair sports because ever since I read about your tennis training (crawling down the stairs at the Y with a duct taped arm?), I have been in awe of you as the athletic champion. I don't have THAT level of dedication. But I do find that getting people to recognize Person and Gender beyond wheelchair is good - of course then the arguments about classification continue within the disability world itself sadly.

Yes, a $4000 wheelchair compared to $100 runners seems odd that we are excluded from the money? Thanks again.

FridaWrites said...

Congratulations--I'm impressed! (But not inspired, :) I'm not a runner.) How'd you get all those photos?

I am also tired of there not being any representation (or advisory capacity) by people with disabilities on committees or boards for policies that affect them directly, often unfairly. There should be comparable cash prizes set up for the racers in wheelchairs. I really don't get that.

Sprinkled you with ice pack filling? Good thing they didn't think it was something edible!

Oh, yeah, cops just make me mad when it comes to disability issues, like blocking off all the disabled parking at an event. And you can't even complain.

missnomered said...

You are awesome. And congrats on winning! I shake my virtual fist at the "medical" idiots, though.

Tom P. said...

You go, girl!!! Kick some ass. Those organizers are twits and need some serious smacking around. And I know you are just the person to do it!

Neil said...

Dawn: What's this "we" of which you speak? I'm usually able-bodied (when I'm not busy straining ankles and falling off bicycles).

But if you and Beth wanna go for it, I'll vote for the two of you!

Stephanie said...

What a rip-off. Wheelchair racers are required to pay the entry fee, just like everyone else, but unlike everyone else they can't qualify for prizes. The message here is that people in wheelchairs don't count. Heck, they don't even have a gender so they aren't real people, are they?


For people looking for Elizabeth's Ouch columns, they can be found here:

For her past columns you have to browse through the archives, month by month, or use this handy Google site search:

em said...

I hope you are going to take Lene's suggestions on republishing your article seriously. You aren't exhibiting sour grapes, you are stating a necessary perspective. I adore the way you can be in an extreme medical situation and turn around to be taking pictures and names so soon afterward. One thing we know for certain is that no one is going to intimidate you into silence.

I'm so knocked out by your athletic skills, and in particular your drive. You rock. ROCK.

I know it's wrong, but the slapstick assistance had me laughing helplessly. I think because at some point you either laugh or cry. I'm glad that you confiscated the scary chemicals from them, and I'm glad that they didn't manage to assist you into an early death. Perhaps they need to be ID10T'ed. It's a form see... ID-10-T... oh, it's just a small bitter joke I like to make from time to time.

It was so cool to see you with Soot-san. My girl is gonna love that pic, she squee'd over the little guy in the first place. We are planning to make a small army of them for our own amusement.

Raccoon said...

anyone have the address or e-mail address for the newspaper?

How about the organizers?

A saying that I picked up in college applies: common sense implies that everyone has some.


Raccoon said...

I forgot!

Those wheels look very small for you.

That should of taken care of your sweating for the week...

(Just wanted to stick that in)

Blank said...

Congratulations on your great finish! You made the evening news too, though with the same typo as the papers.

I'm so unimpressed by the TC - a wicked little voice in the back of my head is wondering if that Jason had a hand in getting the names of the winners published.

Thank god they didn't cut open your cooling packs! (Ignoring the bumbling first aiders, it strikes me as an occasion that would have been worth of your anime ice pack.)

Maggie said...

You know, I could get very anthropological and discuss all the various societies which posses 3rd genders, or those which award male status to post-menopausal women (they can no longer produce children, so what purpose are they serving) to make some point about women in wheelchairs being society's third gender. You know, men, women, and wheelchairs. As if people are born as a wheelchair and stop being the person in the chair. But, I see this as so frustrating yet, funny in a sick and twisted way.

I'm glad you did well. You rock! Now, I will not come over for an afternoon of play until you rest-and I do my dishes!

yanub said...

Yeah, yeah, everyone has addressed what asses Jason and the TC and the 10K board are. And they are. It's hard to imagine that there could be a bigger assortment of clowns in any position of responsibility. Well, outside of Washington, DC. But is that what's really important here? No, what's important is...

Wow, you look great in your race pictures! How do you do that? Is there a special camera that takes away the worn-out, pained, exhausted look and replaces it with good lookingness? Cuz I could sure use that camera.

Neil said...

Dear Ms. McNult: "Down the rabbit hole with Alice" is indeed a perfect description of some of your experiences, Beth. I love the wonderful morbid humour you use. Of course, as you've sorta noted, a comedian simply could not make up anything as insane/funny as some of your experiences.

I'm not surprised at the tone of the Times Colonist's article about the race; our society is only interested in winners. Second place is for losers, and hence isn't newsworthy. Except maybe for a year-end editorial by one of the sports reporters.

Stephanie: THANK YOU!!! for the tinyurl to Beth's Ouch entries.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Frida: Linda was doing a walk/jog and as I was faster than her, as I approached her she started taking pics as well as pics of the hills and the cut back. So thanks to Linda the photographer again!

As for the first aid, If I was a challange and threw ER into panic, those poor first aider, eh? I feel sort of sorry but it does teach a lesson in how to calm down and assess the situation; taking 30 seconds to read the instructions of a break-ice pack will be better in the long term than a "let's do it now" plan many times.

I too wish there was an advisor but I think being a person giving so many "unpopular" or "Do we really have to do that" suggestions, that would be a fast burn out job.

As for the police, you can do what I do, give them the victory sign, or whatever it is when I get it mixed up.

Missnomered: Thanks, all is well that ends well, and the pain is almost gone now, I only need pain pills to sleep and breath. hahaha!

Tom P: Well I did call in a correction since I showed up in the news on TV (I don't have one, people just told me), and in the paper with the wrong name, and now they changed the website to show that wheelchairs....weren't there at all?

Stephanie: yes, it did seem to have a sort of not so nice message. Thanks for the help with the URL's. I am obviously in the dark ages with thing technical (I use a basic template 2 years on in blogger - any hint!)

Em: Well, the thing is that if you get used to seeing stories and you are me, then things just sort of happen. Also, other people might have just gone home instead of going, "Um, so, did I do well or what? Do I win something?" I think that isn't the miss mannners way!

I am glad I made you laugh, it is funny, in retrospect. I think it would have made a very good training film.

I am glad the pic of Soot-san pleased your girl, I wish I had picked up a bunch more but Linda was giving me the "And what is the point of buying THIS" look when I insisted we needed him.

Raccoon: The link to the TC results page has a link to contact them as the paper IS the organizer and has a list of the committee members and ways to contact them. I didn't actually sweat. I know that sounds impossible but the only part of me that sweated was my, um, area 51. The upper trunk - nada. I talked to a Quad racer today who talked to me about how to use water sprayers during the race to stop the passing out problem.

And the wheels ARE small - turns out, when I went to go to Japan, that the wheelchair is SUPPOSED to have 26 inch wheels - it does not, it has 25 inch wheels. It is now a year later. Sigh.

Blank: thanks for letting me know about the news, I was a wee confused as they had my name spelled correctly when I looked at the "finishers" sheet at the award table. I just don't know, maybe this person copied it and they passed it on, etc. Corrected now anyway!

No way, if I ever do a 1/2 marathon (now that WILL be a do or DIE event), I will take the anime ice pack - how is that for a promise!

Maggie: I will you have a lot of dishes? I agree, there does seem to be an idea that either a) we got this thing stuck on our ass at birth and haven't figure out how to get it off or b) we don't fill the roles of the typical genders so thus must fall out of them into something else.

Yanub: Well, I am a camera whore! On both sides. No, I just, I don't know, I guess the lying down and passing out is sort of restful in its own way?

Neil: You make a good point and I went and read the articles and yup, who cares about second or third (people up to fifth place got price money, and finishers in the 40+ up to the third person), it is all about the winners and them going to glory.

Yes, I find that often I am in a situation that would make a good film if woody allen, Hitchcock and a french surrealist got together.

Anonymous said...

Your comment about runners looking like they had skulls for faces and sticks for legs was very insulting. I run an average of five miles a day. I'm in great shape and i have tremendous endurance. I'm proud of the way I look and so is my husband and our two children.
If it was supposed to be a joke, it wasn't funny.

Oliver said...

I know it's going to be a very big deal because it's you who is in the wheelchair, but you must understand that taking an aggressive standpoint puts you at even more of a disadvantage in so far as getting your way.

Unless you argue and press the point for sport, I just think it's unfair to make demands of others to consider wheelchairs as much as you have. It's not even an acceptance thing at that point as most people these days DO try their best to consider all options (they are called accessibility standards and it's not limited to wheelchairs) I'm suggesting it's and exposure issue.

If people were exposed to wheelchairs more they would be able to consider them more, it's that simple. Getting upset about their lack of exposure is only grinding your own gears and wearing yourself out... your fighting a battle that need not be fought, your existence in the world and the fact that you ARE very active and such, is enough. Being nasty about it and tearing people up over it is being selfish. It might not be the kind of exposure wheelchairs need right now...

I live in Australia, maybe it's different in Canada, but just my 2cents...

Elizabeth McClung said...

Oliver, I understand your point of view and it is one which I happen to disagree with, though I used to agree with completely when I was Able Bodied, I might have even agreed with it in terms of Race and other things. So let me make the very short and slightly longer arguement:

1) I paid the same $35 to go exercise as everyone around me. This included timing, volunteers, a first aid tent at the end and toilet facilities. At the previous 5K (also blogged, there were not only wheelchair accessible toilets at the start and finish but at 2.5 km) - that was women's breast cancer. Do I not, for my $35 have the same right of usage as those around me? If I go to a resturant and order a dinner which comes with salad and everyone else comes with salad, should I not ask for a salad, and if told they don't give salads to people in wheelchairs should I just pay full price anyway because doing anything else "might not be the kind of exposure wheelchairs need right now".

2) I don't have to be a kind and gentle soul - I have to be an athlete. I came as an athlete, I came in first for the women, I came in first later for all wheelchair in another race winning cash. Is it not expected that athletes, that indeed all humans have access to a toilet? At a professional event? Like say a concert? And that if toilets are labelled 'Whites only' should not the asians, the Native peoples, the blacks, the hispanics and others make some sort of issue about it (although I think I made a stronger issue being told I was genderless because I use a wheelchair - would you like to be told you are genderless?) or accept that if they do, they are not making people think they are NICE, you know, NICE MINORITIES so that out of KINDNESS AND COMPASSION one day they might HAVE a bathroom to use. That, as it happens is the thinking known as 'Stockholm Syndrome' between the captor and the one held captive, holding all power over them - that they will make the other like them so as to be nice to them. Is it equal human rights as dictated by the UN? No. So, why then does it bother you that I point out not that these people should be arrested (which they could be and shipped off to the UN to stand in the Hague for Crimes against Humanitity I suppose) or fined, or detained, or publically shamed, but that it bothers you that I write about it. I write that I deserve a toilet. Prisoners get toilets, kidnap victims get toilets, I did not get a toilet. Maybe I didn't sign up to be an example of the nice kind of disabled person, maybe I wanted to be an equal human being.

Elizabeth McClung said...

My question is, in all seriousness, which I hope you ponder, that when you see this, why do you not have the passion to tell the people who are NOT treating the person with a disability as an person equal to themselves that they are not doing their best (this race INVITED BC Wheelchair sports to come as it is part of a 10 race series for points toward the paralympics - and they didn't consider toilets?), but tell the person with a disability to keep it quiet and consider the needs of the people who charge? The people in charge brought shame to their family name. I did not. Women were not given the vote because the government were convinced how nice women were and decided they should vote but because some women were rather rude about stating they were equal. I'm equal. If they can't think that, or consider that, then refund my money, or think harder.

Thanks for the comment though. I am sorry if it appears I am attacking you; I am not trying to, anymore than your comment - though that would appear (towards me) to reduce to 'Sit down and shut up crip' is probably meant in serious concern for all invovled. In the same way I am trying to show that whether 10 or 1 or 100 or 1000, if you host an event, if you take money, if you are part of the official Wheelchair sports program, then knowing that men and women go to the paralympics in gender is not too much to know, knowing that people need toilets after seeing Paula Radcliffe pee on the course because there wasn't one isn't too much to know. Knowing that we exist isn't too much to know.

Guantes DE Nitrilo said...

You are awesome. And congrats on winning!