Race Running Camp and Competition

Gavin, Harris, Lauren, Matthew and Elaine

Race Running was ‘invented’ as an athletics event by Connie Hansen, Danish Paralympic Wheelchair Racing multiple medallist and engineer. The race running bike was developed at the request of Mansoor Siddiqui, a Danish athlete with cerebral palsy who competed in the ‘foot pushing’ category of the Paralympics athletics until it was taken out in 1992. Mansoor wanted an event that meant he could move forwards instead of backwards. As a result, a three-wheel bike with saddle, chest plate and no pedals was developed. The sport is for people with severe and complex cerebral palsy for whom there is no other way of participating in the sport of athletics.

This athletic event has seen tremendous growth over the years, in particular over the last five, and is now recognised by CPISRA (world governing body for sports people with cerebral palsy) as one of its key sports.

Recently, there has been further development to investigate the development of an evidence-based classification system, the training effect on these athletes and the general health and wellbeing of people who participate in race running. If an evidence based classification can be developed, then there is the hope that in the future this may be become a Paralympic athletics event, allowing those athletes for whom there is currently no Paralympic pathway access to the movement.

For the past 19 years, an annual Race Running Camp and Open competition has been held in Copenhagen, Denmark. This year was the 20th anniversary of the event and also incorporated the 3rd Open European Race Running Championships. 82 Race Runners from 11 countries attended for the full week, the largest race running event in the world this year. A team of five Scottish athletes took part in the camp and championships. Alongside the Scottish athletes, coaches and supporters were a team of researchers from Edinburgh and Queen Margaret Universities who collected data using a variety of tests as the start of developing the evidence based classification system.

The athletes who attended were Matthew Doig, (Perth and Perth Strathtay Harriers), Gavin Drysdale (Ayr and Red Star AC), Lauren Gallagher (Glasgow and Red Star AC), Harris Menshawi (Forth Valley Flyers and Red Star AC) AND Elain Boyd (Edinburgh). They participated in the camp from Monday to Thursday and then the Open Championships on Friday and Saturday.

All five athletics set at least one personal best and Gavin, Matthew and Elaine were multi medallists (Matthew and Gavin five golds each and Elaine one gold and two silvers). For Lauren and Harris, it was their first time at the Camp and Championships. Both were internationally classified and set multiple personal bests in their events.

This is the largest Scottish contingent to attend the Camp and race running is steadily developing across Scotland. There are athletes participating in race running from as far south as Dumfries and Galloway to Shetland in the North as well in the West and across the East. For further information contact Peter Drysdale at mpdrysdale@aol.com.

Photo: L-R, Gavin, Harris, Lauren, Matthew and Elaine