Chicago experts leading Chattanooga paratriathlon training clinic

Chicago experts leading Chattanooga paratriathlon training clinic

April 20th, 2016 by Ron Bush in Sports - Outdoors

Photo by Ali Engin

Chicago experts Dan Tun and Stacee Seay will be in Chattanooga this weekend to teach the physically challenged how to train for triathlons, and there is room for more participants.

Sports, Arts & Recreation of Chattanooga, better known as SPARC, is conducting a paratriathlon training clinic Saturday and Sunday at Girls Preparatory School. The lead instructors are from the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club of Chicago, like SPARC a chapter of Disabled Sports USA.

The clinic was made possible by a $10,000 community grant awarded SPARC last fall by the Ironman Foundation, so participants pay only a $25 registration fee and that covers lunch and snacks both days.

"This is for individuals, over the age of 16, with physical disabilities who are interested in learning to train for a triathlon — or just one part of a triathlon," said Debbie Hightower, a SPARC co-founder and board member along with her husband, Jerry. "If someone wants to compete in road races, they can learn how to use a racing chair, which is different from a handcycle, or if their impairment is visual, they can learn to ride a tandem bike with a pilot or run with a guide. And we'll be using handcycles, too.

"To use a racing chair, which has no gearing, they have to have some flexibility and they have to be able to use their arms to push, but paraplegics and some quads can do it, with quad gloves."

Amputees, people with spina bifida, even some with cerebral palsy also are among those who can benefit from the weekend clinic, she added.

Anyone interested can call her at 488-8604 and find out for sure about qualifying. She'd like to have those calls today or Friday. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The instruction/workout schedule is set to conclude at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and with lunch at 1:30 Sunday.

Tun and Seay both have USA Triathlon Level I coaching certificates among their credentials. Tun, a co-founder and coach for Dare2tri, is the special recreation coordinator for the Chicago Park District "and specializes in adaptive and Paralympic sports," his professional bio says. In addition to helping runners and triathletes with disabilities navigate numerous races, he has completed an Ironman.

Seay is the Chicago club's head coach and a longtime competitive cyclist who been working with physically disabled athletes since 2008, according to the SPARC release, which also praised her "knowledge of anatomy, physiology and kinesiology" as she prepares individual training plans.

Jerry Hightower, SPARC's president, said he had targeted the Dare2tri experts for this inaugural clinic early.

"Since we're a chapter of DSUSA like we are, I get a lot of information on them, and they're the premier paratriathlon club in the country," he said. "I told them who we are and that we had applied for a grant from the Ironman Foundation and asked, 'If we get it, would you be interested?'

"They said they'd love to. They do a lot of clinics like this in the Chicago area and in the upper Midwest."

"I'm excited," Debbie Hightower said. "If this turns out like I think it's going to, it's going to be great."

Contact Ron Bush at rbush@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6291.