by Tim Paul
Dare2tri is an organization with the mission to develop the skills of athletes with both physical disabilities, visual impairment and blindness in the sport of triathlon. Triathlons are races that consist of three sports: swimming, biking and running. Triathlon events consist of different lengths such as supersprint, sprint, Olympic half Ironman, and Ironman. I have been in Dare2tri since its launch in 2011.
The founders of Dare2tri are Melissa Stockwell, who is a veteran and a Paralympian in triathlon; Keri Serota, who used to work for Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association and is now the executive director; and Dan Tun, who used to work for the Chicago Park District and is now on staff. They saw the need for triathlon in the adaptive sport community and had a passion for the sport, so they banded together to start Dare2tri in 2011.
The organization gives athletes opportunities to reach goals and compete in triathlons. They support a number of triathlons throughout the summer where they provide equipment such as tandem bikes and volunteer guides for blind athletes. They also have a volunteer handler who helps each athlete in other ways, such as in the transition area.
Before the race starts, you meet in the transition area. This is where you go after the swim and get ready for the bike portion and then start biking. Then you come back through transition to drop off your bike and go for the run portion. There are a number of things you need to have ready in transition other than the bike, including your helmet, biking gloves, shoes and socks, nutrition, water, etc. For the blind, you are using a swim tether, so you drop that off at transition and get on a tandem bike. When you come back to transition, you get ready to run by dropping off your biking gear and pick up your running tether.
Dare2tri works with athletes of all ability levels. It gives people with disabilities opportunities to be physically active and training opportunities. During the school year, there are workouts on Tuesday nights at Fosco Park in Chicago which consist of an hour of gym workout and then an hour of swim workout. We call it Gym and Swim. In the summer, there are both open water swimming and biking workouts. Now during the pandemic, there are strength training and biking workouts through Zoom. They have talked about offering these after the pandemic as well.
To be part of Dare2tri, you do not have to participate in all three sports. You also can just come and participate in training events. If you want to train and participate in an event that just includes one or two of those events, you will be supported with a guide if one is available. If you want to learn how to swim or become a better swimmer, you can work on that in the training sessions. Being a swimmer all my life, my swim workouts with Dare2tri have made me a better swimmer. My friend Maureen Heneghan is also active in Dare2tri and has been joining the Zoom workouts. She loves the pool workouts. Both of us are looking forward to getting back to the pool.
Dare2tri has a network of volunteers who can serve as running guides who will run with a blind runner on training workouts or during races. This is a resource I use to find guides when I am training for a race such as a half marathon or marathon.
I have done six triathlons, including five sprints and one Olympic distance. My last triathlon was the Chicago Triathlon last August, which ended up being a duathlon because of high waves on Lake Michigan. I participated in the sprint distance, which was a mile run, 12.4 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. Dare2tri had a tent where we hung out after the race. Then we went to the award ceremony, where I got a second place award for male blind paratriathlete. What a blast that day was thanks to Dare2tri and my guide that day, Jake.
For a copy of my sports resource list, send an email message to [email protected].