Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Patricia And Caroline make History
How tough are you? Are you tough enough to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles all in under seventeen hours? Patricia Walsh is! Walsh was one of six blind and or visually impaired triathletes who competed this past weekend as part of Team CDF at the Ironman Triathlon Lake Placid. She lost her eyesight many years ago, but was tough enough to overcome the obstacles which came with that experience to make a success of herself. On Sunday, she was tough enough to battle through 140.6 miles to cross the finish line and hear the words, "Patricia Walsh, you are an Ironman!" Triathlon is an individual sport. You versus yourself. It may be argued, it is you versus the elements. For Patricia, it is her and her sighted guide versus themselves and the elements. In order for her to make it through, she has someone along side every step of the way swimming, biking, and running with her the entire distance. It is Patricia Walsh whose name goes down in the record books, but there is someone there next to her who trained just as hard, dedicated herself to be ready for the Ironman, and who must conquer the course while ensuring Patricia's safety and well being with each stroke, pedal, and step. In this instance, it was Caroline Gaynor who was by Patricia's side. Yes, the same Caroline Gaynor about whom you may have read in the past at this site. The same Caroline who was recognized in February of this year as the Triathlete Of The Month for her accomplishments in the sport and tireless philanthropic work with various charities and good causes around the country including being a sighted guide for many athletes through the C Different Foundation. She does not need my high praise as certification of her greatness in athletics and life, but I do it happily because I am often in awe of her accomplishments. I have spoken to many who guide athletes in races and they say they are simply being the athletes' eyes and communicating what needs to be communicated, but to do it successfully takes some talent. To do it while performing at an elite level takes a special person. The week before the lake Placid race, Walsh and Gaynor coasted to a first place finish at the NYC Triathlon winning their division with ease by well over twenty minutes. Then followed it up by making history by becoming the first female duo (female athlete and female guide) to ever complete an Ironman Triathlon! That makes Caroline the first woman to ever lead a blind triathlete through the 140.6 mile course. Congratulations to Patricia Walsh and Caroline Gaynor. You are more than tough enough. You are groundbreaking historical special women who will forever be connected in the record books of the Ironman Triathlon!