Top athletes participated in Off-Road Handcycling Championships Labor Day Weekend

Competition was high at the Off-Road Handcycling Championships this Labor Day weekend, which saw 15 top athletes competing in an uphill race, downhill race and cross-country competition on Mt. Crested Butte and a trials exhibition in downtown Crested Butte.
Two women and 13 men competed in the championships, including paralympic handcyclist Matt Updike, and Chris Waddell, a paralympic skier who is making a bid to become the first paraplegic to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro unassisted two weeks from now.
Waddell took first place in the uphill competition, and Drew Wills took first place in the cross-country event. Topher Downham won the quad division in the downhill race and Alistair Johnson won the Para Division. The event was not without its highlights, including a gripping race for the finish in the 4.2-mile cross-country race between Wills and local handcyclist Jake O’Connor.
“One hundred feet from the finish line I was ready to pass Drew Wills and my chain fell off and jammed. I had bumped him a few times coming down the mountain I was rubbing his rear tire. But in the end, the best man still won. Drew is at the top of his game right now and is arguably the most fit off-road handcyclist in the world,” said O’Connor, who took second place.
The three-mile uphill race featured a poignant finish by Daniel Hersh from the Front Range, who completed the course in two hours and 47 minutes, well behind the lead pack, which finished in under an hour.
Hersh’s determination and will to succeed were apparent as he cranked his handcycle across the finish line to clapping and cheers. The uphill race was called “grueling” by those who competed and required a tremendous amount of base strength and fitness to complete.
A trials exhibition in downtown Crested Butte on Saturday night featured a log jam, rock pile/tire crawl, teeter totter and several ramps. Participant Ann Yoshida was the sole woman to power through the course several times, undeterred by a big crash during the first go-around.
 The event is one of just two serious off-road handcycling events held in the U.S. each year, and is a collaboration between the U.S. Handcycling Federation, the Adaptive Sports Center, Crested Butte Mountain Resort and One-Off Handcycles.
Full race results may be viewed at www.adaptivesports.org or www.ushandcycling.org.

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