Paraplegic will Wheel his way through Sunday’s Cove to Clover Race – Again
Story & Photos by Scott Schaefer
A returning participant will be wheeling his way through Sunday’s Cove to Clover race – Keegan Reilly, 31, a paraplegic, last participated in 2010 when he beat 319 other racers using an “arm cycle.”
This year Reilly will be part of an exhibition for a proposed new ‘Mule Division’ – where two others must push a racer in a chair to finish the race as a team.
“Snake Hill is so hard that it keeps some disabled people out of the race,” said Race Director John Nelson. “This spreads the pain around a bit.”
Nelson says that the three “pushers” can get the chair through the race anyway they want, and can even hitch a ride on it going downhill.
However, they must get over and through The Uprising, a challenging and fun obstacle consisting of two towers and lots of stacked hay bales near St. Francis of Assisi, where 30 Warriors (actually members of the Highline High School baseball team) will aggressively act out a battle scene, in full Celtic costume, with shields and swords.
Oh, and loud rock n’roll – they’ll also be blasting Metallica and Ozzy Osborne music!
Reilly will be assisted by two relatives named Zeb and Zach. He lost the use of his lower body after receiving a major spinal cord injury in a car crash, but he hasn’t let that stop him. According to his uncle, who also happens to be Race Organizer John Nelson, Keegan made the very first arm-powered ascent of Colorado’s Mt. Elbert, which also happens to be the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, at 14,443 feet (32 feet higher than our own Mt. Rainier).
In addition, Reilly has also climbed Japan’s Mt. Fuji (12,388 ft.) as well as Mt. Shasta in California (14,179 ft.) using arm-climbing devices that were consulted and commissioned by his uncle, who says he did “a redesign” of one of One-Off Titanium’s unique arm powered off-road 3-wheelers.
“The result was a 4-wheeled hand-cycle designed specifically for ascending steep and rough terrain,” Nelson said.
The BBC did a story on Keegan’s ascent of Fuji (read it here), which received international attention because the police tried to stop the expedition at base camp. Nelson adds:
“We waited them out until the press arrived,” Nelson said. “After a couple days camping outside their door, they relented and grudgingly allowed the expedition to continue. Having a person be the final obstacle to overcoming Fuji just seemed downright silly.”
Reilly’s Shasta climb was with three other disabled climbers, including Pete Reike, who made the first arm-powered ascent of Mt. Rainier (read that story here).
“Each new person pushing the limits of the last,” Nelson said. “It’s like mountaineering being invented all over again.”
Most recently, Chris Waddell successfully summitted Kilimanjaro using a model of the 4-wheeler he based on Keegan’s machine (link here).
Nelson says that Reilly came all the way from Colorado just to take part in Sunday’s race.
Here are some pics of this brave and amazingly strong man (both physically and mentally) in action: