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Thread: Wheelchair racers impressed after Japan experience

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Wheelchair racers impressed after Japan experience

    Wheelchair racers impressed after Japan experience


    Thursday, October 31, 2002

    By Keith Essenburg
    The Grand Rapids Press



    GRANDVILLE -- Two Grandville men say they were impressed by the friendly people and their planning in Japan, where they competed in the world's largest wheelchair marathon.


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    Tom Ottenwess and Brian Kobi flew to Oita, Japan, this month to compete against hundreds of other wheelchair athletes in a 26.2-mile marathon and half-marathon.

    Despite rain throughout the event, they finished their races.

    "They were incredibly organized," said Ottenwess, 40, who participated in the full marathon.

    Involved in wheelchair racing nationwide since 1985, he said the Japanese race organizers were the best he has ever seen in arranging everything from transportation from the airport to hotel accommodations.

    Ottenwess completed the full marathon in less than two hours, placing 98th out of 147 finishers. Kobi, who competed in the half-marathon, finished 40th among 200 finishers.

    Ottenwess has used a wheelchair since 1981, when he suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident. He said he began racing when friends encouraged him to join them.

    He got involved with the Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association, which provided him with a special wheelchair for racing and underwrote his travel expenses to various races.

    "Without them, we wouldn't be able to go anywhere," Ottenwess, a Kenowa Hills High School graduate, said of the association. "It's an incredible organization for people with disabilities."

    Kobi, 24, was born and raised in Fowlerville. He was paralyzed at the age of 17 in a motocross accident and turned to wheelchair racing to stay active and competitive.

    "Every day, I have something to look forward to," said Kobi, who recently graduated from Grand Valley State University with degrees in finance and economics.

    A financial representative at Northwestern Mutual, Kobi said that without wheelchair racing, "I'd just be working full time."

    This way, he added, "I have fun, stay in shape and stay healthy."



    © 2002 Grand Rapids Press. Used with permission


    Copyright 2002 Michigan Live. All Rights Reserved

    ==============================
    "Those who seek to predict the future... might first look to the past. The past is a mirror -- and those who ignore its sometimes dark reflection, are doomed to repeat it... Will it be those seeking redemption who shall decide the future... or will those driven only by greed and envy shape our destiny? Even a hundred years later, the outcome is still very much in doubt. .." Outer Limits(Heart's Desire)



  2. #2

    oita marathon

    I did this race, both this year and last year. It's amazing, being surrounded by so many other racers. I shaved 3 minutes off my time from last year.... (I only do the half marathon though) Any other racers on this site?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Wow, Globechaser

    I 'm too paralysed to compete


    But, I'm very glad for you

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