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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Good Enough for Boston, but Not for Austin

Boston Marathon 2012

" You miss 100% of the shots you never take."


In April in ran in the Mobility Impaired Division of the Boston Marathon. I gained entry based on my diagnosis of CMT. I submitted notes from the neurologist exam to prove I was eligible.  Those same notes were not even looked at today when I was rejected to compete in the Paratriathlon National Championship this morning.

I knew going in there was a chance I would not be classified in.  I had talked extensively with United States Triathlon Association (USTA) officials last year about the medical classification process. The process is very secret and at least for me not very extensive.  I knew there was a pretty good chance after the time, expense and preparation I would not be allowed into the National Championship.

After a few questions about how CMT affects my swimming, biking and running, the physical therapist present did a few strength and range of motion tests.   The strength test consisted of me pushing against her resistance. A child could  have pushed harder. It was completely ridiculous.  

I was told I was not "impaired enough" and I was "too strong".  Fellow CMT athlete Donna DeWick was also rejected.It didn't matter that the Boston Marathon accepted my CMT or that the International Triathlon Union has given me the same classification I was seeking today based on a review of my medical records. Now that I have gone through the USAT process, the ITU classification is no longer valid.

   I feel the strength alone measure is not fair, since Donna and I have both worked hard to preserve strength and function. I would like the USAT officials to see the bills for chiropractic care, physical therapy, massages, and doctor care. It is a struggle every day to maintain the activity level necessary to try and compete on any level.

It is not a surprise to have this happen since CMT is not well understood even in the medical community. Ignorance about CMT is something we face everyday. How disappointing to see it once again at the National level.

I will compete tomorrow and represent Team CMT.  I will be proud to race in the same group as Donna. I have admired her determination and dedication for a long time.   The USAT has promised to take a look at the classification process for our category. I can only hope they are open to education about CMT and its affect on athletes. The mission of Team CMT has been to raise awareness and educate. I just didn't think I would need to educate the USAT.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 100 members in 17 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Running, triathlons, impaired athlete, paratriathlon, USAT, running and CMT

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