Prior to the pandemic changing everything running-related, Dale Wiest presented at a Pacers’ meeting the concept of our members volunteering to use adaptive joggers to allow athletes from the IMABLE Foundation to participate in local running races. The combination of the relaxation of social distancing rules, the Shiver by the River race going live, and a recent Pagoda Pacers monetary donation to IMABLE allowed Dale’s vision to become a reality. On April 11, 2021, Dale, Evan Falk, and Michael Whalen joined super athlete Brantlee Phillips at the starting line for a wet and cold 5K adventure. Brantlee enjoyed the speedbumps and puddles as he passed cheering road marshals, other athletes, and fans for a commendable 14th place finish. The three Pagoda Pacers Race Mates all agreed that this was an extraordinary experience. The first place overall female runner presented Brantlee with her large trophy! Brantlee proudly wore his finisher’s medal to school the next day and was very proud of his accomplishment. It is reported that Brantlee has the “race bug” and is looking to compete again.
The Race Mates program is in its infancy and we are hopeful to grow the program rapidly. IMABLE has purchased additional adaptive joggers and we are scheduled to assist four athletes on May 2, 2021. The goal of the program is to eliminate the barriers that prevent athletes from participating in running events. Currently the only races that will be considered are 5K or less, paved, or smooth rail-to-trail. There are many safety factors that need to be considered for this program. All Pagoda Pacers are eligible to participate as a race guide or in other volunteer roles in the Race Mates program. Please contact Dale Wiest, Kristen Jacoby, or Michael Whalen if you are interested.