KINGSPORT — The Eastman Road Race this Saturday will add a new “spin” to the 6.2-mile course.
Along with the usual 10K, 3K runs and the 3K walk there will a new race division — handcycle.
“For the past few years we have had one or two handcyclists enter the race but it was never an official event,” said race director David Fox.
“We have looked for a while at adding the event but there were concerns about course safety as well as looking for a sponsor.”
Fox did not have to look far for someone to help with the new endeavor.
Daniel Smith, in information technology with Tele-Optics, works in the same building and offered to help get the new race division started. Three years ago, Smith was injured in a motorcycle accident and lost movement from the waist down.
“This will actually be my first race. I just received my bike in July with help from a grant by the Challenged Athletes Foundation,” Smith said. “I haven’t trained as much as I would have liked due to my job and the difficulties of hauling the cycle.
“I did a practice run last Sunday and think I can knock several minutes off my time from then.”
It was a twofold win for Fox when Smith’s employer, Tele-Optics stepped in and agreed to sponsor the race.
The Eastman Road race is one of several things on Smith's bucket list. He hopes to continue training with sights on a marathon and help increase awareness of the need for sports opportunities for those with disabilities.
“I want to help show there is a need. You have to travel almost three hours to Charlotte for the closest sports programs for those with disabilities and the biggest number of road races don’t allow handcycles,” Smith said.
The Tele-Optics 10K Handcycle kicks off at 7:55 a.m. and early in the week had four racers registered for the event.
This year marks the 34th running of the race and $10 (before deadline) for a shirt, socks and pasta dinner continues to be one of the better deals among the local races.
Events for the race begin Friday at 11 a.m. with the Cigna Fitness Expo in the Eastman Recreation Center.
“We will have Daniel’s cycle on display at the recreation center and I think those who ride bikes should find the display and how the cycle works interesting,” added Fox.
Evening events include the youth runs at the Eastman Ball Fields as well as the pasta dinner for race entrants
For a full listing of events go to www.eastmanroadrace.com.