August 30, 2004
As a qualifier for the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon World Championships next month, Truckee resident Candace Cable will face a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run to finish the race.The Hawaii Ironman is considered to be the toughest one-day race in all of sport. For most competitors, just finishing the three disciplines in the allotted time is an achievement to be proud of.For Cable, making it through the day will guarantee her a win in her category – the female handcycle division. That’s because she is the first-ever female competitor with a spinal cord injury to qualify for the race and the only woman entered in the division.But that doesn’t make the feat of completing the granddaddy of all triathlons any easier. In fact, being the sole woman in her division means more scrutiny. After all, Cable will be aiming to make history.But making history and breaking records is nothing new for the 50-year-old Truckee athlete who has been a dominant force on the adaptive sports scene for almost 25 years.
Cable’s athletic resume is impressive: six-time Boston Marathon champion, the only person to win the “Triple Crown” road racing national championships (10k, half-marathon and marathon), twelve-time summer and winter Paralympic Medalist, 2004 Overall World Cup Champion in cross country skiing and 2004 U.S. Disabled Ski Team Cross Country National Champion.Since the 1975 automobile accident that broke her back and left her in a wheelchair at the age of 21, Cable has been redefining what it means to be “disabled.”She got heavily into wheelchair racing at the age of 25 and became a dominant force in competitions throughout the 1980s.After the Seoul Paralympics in 1988, she moved to Truckee and fell in love with downhill and cross country skiing, the latter being especially difficult for disabled skiers who can never lift their skis off the snow.But where some people might see obstacles, Cable sees opportunities.Cross country skiing “is an opportunity for someone with a mobility impairment to be able to explore the forest and the wilderness under their own power,” Cable said. “And for someone with a disability, there’s a lot of empowerment that’s involved with being able to access the wilderness again.
“So often we’re told that we’re going to spend the rest of our lives on concrete and asphalt because we’re in wheelchairs. But there are a lot of people who are proving that wrong now because they’ve got the equipment that is out there now.”Cable said she is excited to see other disabled athletes pushing the limits of traditional disabled sports and branching out into other activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking and skiing. She mentions fellow disabled athlete and Truckee resident Mark Wellman, who has climbed Mt. Shasta, as an example of a man who refuses to let his disability keep him from pursuing the activities he loves.Listening to Cable talk about getting out in the backcountry on her cross country ski rig in the winter or her modified mountain board in the summer gives the impression that her injury has not slowed her down at all. If anything it has made her get a little more creative in her equipment choices.In the Ironman race, Cable said she is reasonably confident about her fitness level and preparation for the bike and run sections of the race. But it is the swim portion that has her a little worried. Without the use of her legs, she will have to rig some kind of a brace that will keep her legs in line with her torso to allow for an efficient stroke.Despite the challenges, Cable said she enjoys the multi-sport events and expects the Ironman to be a unique challenge.
By all accounts the mental aspect of the race is just as important as the physical aspect, and for Cable, the financial aspect will be equally important.She needs to raise a total of $20,000 to cover the costs of her training and competition this year from the Ironman qualifier she completed in Lubbock, Tex. on June 20 of this year to the Ironman Hawaii on Oct. 16.To help with her fund-raising effort Cable is looking for sponsorships and donations from companies and individuals to help send her to Hawaii. For a minimum donation of $10 she will send a postcard with a personal message from Hawaii upon completion of the Ironman.”I’ve been told that the Hawaiian Ironman is a magical event,” she said. “People say it takes you to a place where you find strength and motivation that you didn’t know you have.”For more information on Candace Cable see her Web site: http://www.CandaceCable.com. To make a donation to help send Cable to the Hawaiian Ironman send your donation, along with your name and address to: Candace Cable, P.O. Box 8264, Truckee, CA 96162.