David Randall's torrid pace too much for other handcyclists

David Randall's torrid pace too much for other handcyclists

Provided by Free Press

For marathon competitors in the Disabilities Division, a new feature of the race eased -- but didn't eliminate -- the challenge for handcyclists and wheelchair racers to stay on a twisting route.

About 50 bicycling escorts, all of them accomplished cyclists from metro Detroit, were assigned one-on-one to lead the handcycle racers, who at times rolled at more than 20 m.p.h. on Sunday at the Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon.

Another first was the presence of the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, which fielded 20 military members and veterans from across the country in the handcycle class, team director Genna Griffith of New York City said.

"GM is supporting us," Griffith said. "We're really grateful,"

First in the 26.2-mile marathon in the field of more than three dozen handcyclists was David Randall, 37, of Ontario, Ohio, with a time of 1:21:55.

"I had some good competition, but today was my day," Randall said. A member of the U.S. Paralympics National Team, and aiming for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Randall stayed well ahead of three others who battled for miles to gain the second spot.

"He's an animal," said Randall's bike escort, Bryan Sieber, 34, of Royal Oak. Sieber, an elite bicyclist just back from the Hawaii Ironman World Championship triathlon on Oct. 8, said he barely kept pace with Randall. Second in the class in 1:34:53 was Adam Rose, 17, of Shelby Township, who won the event last year. This year's competition was stiffer, his father, Don Rose, said.

"At the start, he didn't think he'd be in the top five," Don Rose said. It was Adam's Free Press race. The first time he entered, he was only 12 and received a waiver of the age minimum of 16 from the Free Press.

"I got lost once, about Mile 14," Adam said. Both he and his bike escort couldn't find a turn and that added about a minute to his time. Just 5 second behind him, taking third, was handcyclist Kenneth Bestine, 45, of Clymer, N.Y., with a time of 1:34:58.

One woman entered the handcycling class: Tabitha Landon, 17, of Lake Odessa, who won in 2:48:52.

It was her second marathon and first Free Press race, Tabitha said.

Three men competed in racing chairs. First was Grant Berthiaume, 49, of Tucson, Ariz., in 2:05:13. Second was Steve Trahey, 59, of Romulus, in 3:22:11. Third was Andrew Barnhart, 55, of Reading, in 3:34:36.

Some handcyclists were upset by confusion on the course.

"There's nobody (monitoring) the corners, so we blew right past one turn, and then we met the lead runners (of the marathon) because they missed it, too," said Brad Baumann, 37, of Zeeland, who placed sixth.

"It was right when you're coming out of Corktown," toward Michigan Avenue, said Baumann's bike escort, Michelle Tindall of Troy. And at Joe Louis Arena, course marshals stopped about 10 handcyclists, holding them for 16 minutes and 2 seconds while elite marathoners passed.

"It was the only way they could do it," said handcyclist Doug Finkbeiner, 47, of Saginaw. "It's a safety thing. They had incidents last year of (handcyclists) running into runners.

"It's still a good race. We'll work it out."