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Challenger Programme
Overview
 


From Sprints to Marathon in just over 2 months!

Sammi pushes through the pain barrier to confirm her spot on the plane to the Gold Coast Commonwealh Games.

 
BY SAMMI KINGHORN
SCOTTISH WHEELCHAIR RACER
 



When the Commonwealth Games events programme was announced with 1500m and marathon open to athletes in my class I knew that I would have a challenge on my hands to set qualifying marks in events that are outside my normal preferred range. I do race 1500m occasionally and did so in the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but I had never pushed further than a half marathon and that was for fun and not recent.

The London World Championships and the short sprints were always my goal for the season and, with the Commonwealth Games qualifying window closing at the end of October, we targeted a late marathon in Chicago in the second week of October as the place to debut and to try to set a time that would see me compete in the Gold Coast next April. It meant that I had a relatively short time to transition to longer road training but we agreed this was the best option within the time frame. I do train on the road and have pushed 19 miles in training so I wasn’t a complete rookie going in to this training phase. I raced in the Great North Run half marathon in September, finishing second in a PB of almost 8 minutes so I knew things were headed in the right direction.

Training though was interrupted when I developed a tendon injury that kept me out of the race chair for a while so I hadn’t got in the chair miles I was hoping before I went out to the USA to train and race. I was back in my race chair to compete in the Great Scottish 10k in Glasgow where I was second over the line and first woman in quite challenging weather conditions on a challenging and technical course. I travelled out a week before the marathon to the US Paralympic Wheelchair Racing Training Centre at the University of Illinois where I had many of the world’s top athletes to train with. I travelled up to Chicago a couple of days before the race and settled into the race hotel. On the day of the race we were up early to leave at 5.30am to go to the start. The race started at 7.20am and the temperatures were due to rise during the course of the race. The field was the strongest I had ever raced in featuring Paralympic medallists and world record holders.

In the event I was delighted to finish 5th in 1.43.52 which is a Scottish record by nearly 20 minutes and puts me well up the Commonwealth rankings. The race didn’t go super smoothly though as the photos show. My wheel had been rubbing so I added a washer just to push it out. This meant that my arm was rubbing against the wheel which started to lift skin off during the race. At one point I stopped to transfer a finger plaster to the wound just to stop it getting worse but the plaster also rubbed through. Marathon is a long way and after the Gold Coast next year (if I am selected), I will be returning to short sprints for the foreseeable future – at least until the 2020 Paralympics.

Sammi is part of the Christopher Ward Challenger Programme. More information can be found here: https://www.christopherward.co.uk/challengerprogramme





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Having won gold medals in both the 100m and 200m at the 2017 World Para-athletics Championships, it’s safe to assume Sammi’s preference is for sprint events. But with her favourite events unavailable at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Sammi is preparing to go long distance…

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