TITLE: The Ultra Challenge Wheel Chair Race
By Bella Rossiter
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from a bus passenger’s imaginative perspective...
I can do this, I know I can. I can do this, I know I can. They all believe in me, I canâ€™t let them down. God give me strength.
A Harley passes on her left. She stays focused on the road. She is like a bug, perilously close to being squashed. She has relentlessly built up endurance, fortitude, and determination, and she calls upon them now with every ounce of her resolve.
She thought her life was over; there was nothing left to live for. The accident broke her body and her spirit. She didnâ€™t want to go on. She couldnâ€™t go on. Why couldnâ€™t everyone leave her alone? Friends said they knew what she was going through. How could they when they were still whole? She used to stand tall, proud of her athletic abilities. The power was in her legs. My legs. They were my life. Oh, God...
A towering motor coach nearly consumes her with the draft from passing and the exhaust drawing her breath away. The pace car behind her is a poor shield against the onslaught
of accumulating impatient traffic. When they drove over this route, she was sure the uphill climbs would be a challenge but she was ready. She had been in intense training to strengthen the muscles in her upper body. She felt sure she could go the distance.
Concentrate. Inhale. Exhale. Thrust arms forward. Again. I want my legs back! Tears threaten to disarm her resolve.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
I am alive and I have new strengths to take the place of the ones Iâ€™ve lost...
Some friends vanished when she lost the use of her legs; unable or unwilling to accommodate the demanding intruder restructuring her life. New ones appeared to help breathe the will to live into her broken spirit. There are 25 other men and women ahead and behind her pushing the limits of their endurance that will put the able-bodied to shame.
Coast down this hill, relax, drink water, breathe evenly. Now push hard and get up this hill! Thank you, God! Find the rhythm again and hold it. Concentrate. Inhale. Exhale. Thrust arms forward. Again. I can do it. I know I can. I could do this forever! Iâ€™ve pushed through the pain. My muscles are solid, begging for more. Yes, this is great! I did fifty miles yesterday and I can do it again today. My limbs scream in agony. How can I go on? I want to quit, please! Concentrate. Inhale. Exhale. Thrust arms forward. Thatâ€™s all I have to do. Itâ€™s that simple. Anyone could do it. Just keep doing it, over and over. Remember the feeling of victory during training. You thought you couldnâ€™t do it then. But, you did! Youâ€™re a winner! Yes, Iâ€™m a winner, Iâ€™m a winner, Iâ€™m a winner!
The village streets of Talkeetna are lined with smiling, encouraging faces, hooting and whistling their approval of her triumph. Tonight the Challenge Team will celebrate, sleep, and dream. Tomorrow they will do it all over again. Fifty miles a day until they cross the finish line, 267 grueling miles from Fairbanks to Anchorage. Yes!
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