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Saturday, November 7, 2015

ITU World Championship Chicago, Assessment

 2015 Chicago ITU World Championship

"Remember happiness does not depend on who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think." -Dale Carnegie

I qualified for Team USA and competed as an age group athlete in the Aquathlon on September 16, 2015. The race was a 750 K swim and a 5 K run.

It was a sunny 85 F perfect day for the race and everything went really well. Although I finished well back in my age group, I did my very best, had a great race and a lot of fun.
The race was not the only important event I had that day.

I asked to be placed on the start list for the ITU para-triathlon race on Saturday. The World Championship races ended on Friday. Saturday was a day of age group and open racing for those that did not qualify for the World Championships.

No surprise that I made the start list. The elite race for para was held on Friday and was part of qualification for the paralymics in Rio in 2016.   I had not make the start list for the only other ITU race in the United States held in Detroit in August.  The ITU races are a point series, so it is almost impossible to get on the start list unless you are an elite athlete with lots of race points.

The category I qualify for PT4 also includes single leg amputees. There is no way someone with a neuro-muscular condition with impairment in all four limbs can compete. Those on the road to Rio are taking the available slots.

I asked to be on the start list because I wanted to go through the ITU medical assessment. I did not qualify last year in Chicago.  Because I was turned down by the ITU I could not go through any USA triathlon assessment. Because I not classified I cannot compete at the US para-triathlon championship.

I was told because I was turned down by the ITU I had to finish the process with the ITU.
I was also told by the Para triathlon program manager, that if I failed this assessment in Chicago I was done. You can only be seen twice.

My classification appointment was on Wednesday at 5 pm.  The appointment was the last in the day to accommodate my competition in the World Championship race.

I knew what to expect, since I have been through two USAT assessments and one by ITU assessors.

If you have ever been through a physical therapy assessment when injured, it is the same assessment for strength. At this assessment the assessors did a through assessment and used real strength when assessing me.

They gave me a 5 out of 5 for strength. This assessment is subjective. I did present evidence of a PT that gave me a 4 out of 5 on each of the categories. An assessment of 4's would have got me in.

They watched film taken of my cycling from last years assessment and watched me run.

They sent me out of the room for quite some time. When they called me back in they told me they took their time because they knew this was my last change and they wanted to be fair and through.

I did not meet the minimum standard. One nice thing that they said is I definitely have a condition that qualifies me, I just do not meet the minimum impairment.  It seems unfair, since being an amputee is an in. There is no measure of strength. The presence of my CMT is not enough, even through I can provide proof of my condition with genetic tests. I can prove damage and loss of function with medical tests.

I felt good that they acknowledged my CMT. At USAT assessments I have felt like I was trying to scam the system.

The ITU assessors and I had a really nice discussion.  One of the things I asked was they consider adding back the separate neuro category and changing the standards to allow athletes like myself to compete.  Right now an athlete like myself can meet the time standard to qualify for the US national championship, but I am not "impaired" enough.  The problem is I cannot compete against age group athletes due to my CMT. So I am caught in between both worlds. Those with CMT that have gotten in cannot make the time standard to compete at the US Championship.

The assessors took data and I hope by presenting myself and making the case for CMT athletes, we can affect changes.

I am not not eligible to be assessed again by the ITU. I can only go through assessment if the system changes or if my condition changes. I am not eligible to compete, except in Physically Challenged (PC) Open divisions.

I was not really upset. It was the outcome I expected.  I had already realized there would be no 2016 Paralympics chance because of the way the system is now set up. I was hoping to compete as a para at World Championships.

I still have PC Open at all USAT sanctioned events and I still have age group events. I am good enough as an age group athlete to still qualify for Team USA.

In the past I had been devastated by being rejected at classification. I've learned over the last year to only worry about things I can control. I've learned to focus on the positive in any situation instead of the negative.

 I would be able to race on Saturday in the PC open division.  Because I was not racing in the ITU race I would be able to wear my Team CMT uniform and raise some awareness along the course. The most important is I am still strong enough to compete in the sports I love. I plan to enjoy that as long as I can. My race in Chicago will not be my last apperance at a World Championship.

I will continue to raise to raise awareness and stay strong.  I do want to thank Amanda Duke Boulet, the USAT program manager for being with me at the assessment. I also want to thank the ITU assessors for a fair, honest and through assessment. I felt respected as an athlete and listened to.
Maybe I will never get in, but I hope I paved the way for change for future CMT athletes.

Now I had a race to focus on.  It would be my second race in a week, something I had never done before. I had represented my country in Aquathlon, now I would represent Team CMT in triathlon.


Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a three time participant of the Boston Marathon.  In 2012 she finished 2nd at Boston in the Mobility Impaired Division. She was on the course in 2013 when the bombs exploded.

She has appeared three times at the Paratriathlon National Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division Champion.

In 2014 she was the PC Open Champion at the Duathlon National Championship. She has qualified to represent Team USA at the Aquathon ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015.  

 In 2014 she represented  the U.S. as a paratriathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.

She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.

She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” that details her experience as a CMT affected athlete.

You may visit her author page at:

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 1756 members in 31 states. We also have members in Australia, England,Scotland, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland, Scotland, France and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site; or

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.

Additional Link
Follow CMT affected Paratriathlete Timmy Dixon

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