The area push-chair race team of Zeke Petrie and Andre Travis failed to complete their first triathalon, and improper equipment played a big role, they said.
Petrie, 41, and Travis, 32, who has severe cerebral palsy and has no use of his arms and legs, had hoped to finish the challenging half Ironman event in 8½ hours Saturday.
The Muncie 70.3 Ironman featured a total of 70.3 miles of swimming, bicycling and running, and Petrie and Travis had hoped to complete it to qualify for a full Ironman.
Petrie, of Barberton, and Travis, of Akron, easily completed the 1.2-mile swim, but the bicycling did them in.
They didn’t finish the lengthy 56-mile route until 1:10 p.m. — 10 minutes after the cut-off time set by race officials. This meant they couldn’t even attempt the final leg — the 13.1-mile run that would have had Petrie pushing Zeke in his racing chair, as he did last year in the Akron Marathon.
At Saturday’s half Ironman, “pulling Dre behind me [in the lightweight trailer] ... was like pulling a parachute,” Petrie said Monday, noting that on Saturday it was very windy in Muncie, Ind.
Petrie said he and Travis need to use different equipment — including a bicycle with a seat in front in that Andre would ride — to compete in long-distance triathlons. Petrie is hoping to land a sponsor to make that a reality.
“We need a customized bike where Dre is mounted on the front to compete at the Ironman-distance level,” said Petrie, who is a health aide for Andre and drives a van for an agency, shuttling Travis and others to a day program. “We will be looking for a sponsor.”
At the half Ironman, Petrie said, another big issue was Travis’ bike helmet, which fell off four times. Each time, Petrie had to dismount and put the helmet back on his friend’s head.
“We probably need a customized helmet,” Petrie said.
Finishing in the allotted 8½ hours would have allowed Petrie and Travis to compete in an upcoming full Ironman in Wisconsin. That event is a precursor to the marquee full Ironman in Hawaii.
Petrie said that without better equipment, the two won’t compete in those events.
“We want to go to these events knowing we are going to finish, not hoping,” Petrie said. “It was more difficult to pull him 56 miles on the bike than to push him 26 miles in the Akron Marathon,” Petrie said of Travis.
Petrie and Travis are believed to be that race’s first push-chair team. This spring, the two also completed the Rite-Aid Marathon in Cleveland.
Petrie noted that father and son Dick and Rick Hoyt of Massachusetts have used a customized bicycle, with a seat in front for Rick Hoyt, who like Travis has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. The Hoyts have competed in hundreds of races and several Ironman competitions.
The Hoyts have served as an inspiration to Travis and Petrie.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.