That is the floating Coffees of Hawaii "coffee shop" in Kona Harbour dispensing java to the athletes preparing for the Ironman World Championships tomorrow. Check it out HERE. There are also pictures of the athletes swimming with dolphins in the harbour. Hmmm.... coffee on top, dolphins below, Ironman World Championships tomorrow.... does that sound like fun?
I'm having fun just thinking about it. I have decided right here, right now, that I will drink coffee off of that barge, swim with those dolphins and race that race sometime in the next 5 years. You heard it here first.
It would be great if they had an official qualifier, or a qualifying time for Physically Challenged (PC) athletes.... in the meantime I will have to rely on my penmanship (and luck) to get in. There is a PC lottery each year and I am told that we one-leggers are always welcome....
This brings me to one of the "benefits" of disability that I find a bit patronizing. Examples:
- Ironman World Championships - for most there is a HUGE challenge to qualify. For us, write a letter with race resume and request a spot in the lottery. Great, but not quite so earned.
- Boston Marathon - Again a HUGE challenge for most to qualify. My qualifying time? 8 hours. Are you kidding me? I think I could walk it in 8 hours. Great, at least I know I can go, but again doesn't feel quite so earned.
I could go on a letter-writing campaign and try to change the world (and maybe that is what this is...) but I also know that for recently disabled folks these things sound pretty good and might be pretty motivating. I wouldn't want to take that away.... but there are plenty of triathlons and marathons out there creating an inclusive atmosphere. What disabled sport lacks (with the notable exception of the Paralympics) is the mystique of races like Kona and Boston (a mystique which comes from the qualification criteria and the pride in achieving it).
I think it would be an extremely positive sign for disabled sports if these two influential bastions of athletic accomplishment acknowledged the progress that has been made in competitive disabled sport. Take off the kid gloves, establish some real standards or qualification races. This would create elite events for disabled athletes to aspire to. We want that as much as anybody else. If I wear a Boston Athletic Association jacket from the race, or an Ironman World Championships finisher t-shirt I want to be able to say I earned it - by racing, not by writing.