Triathlete Laurie Allen returned to her beloved sport of triathlon Sunday, completing a modified version of Jack’s Generic Triathlon just two and a half years after she was paralyzed in a fall.
Allen finished the race in exactly 2 hours. After crossing the finish line, she leaned forward in her racing wheel chair, overcome, as friends crowded around to congratulate her. Race director Jack Murray awarded her a finisher’s medal.
“This day was better than I even imagined it was going to be,” Allen said in a press release from High Five Events, which produced the race. “Coming into the finish line, seeing and hearing everybody, crossing the finish and having Jack give me my medal, I’d say today was better than crossing an Ironman finish line.”
Allen was soaking in a hot tub in February 2015 when she got out to cool off. The side was icy, and with no railing to stop her, she fell 10 feet, fracturing a vertebrae and tearing ligaments in her neck. She underwent surgery the following morning, but the damage was severe. Initially she couldn’t move anything below her shoulders, although she now has some function in her arms and hands.
Allen is a dedicated traithlete who once scheduled her life around training sessions and races. She completed nine full-distance Ironman triathlons and nine Ironman 70.3 triathlons before her accident. Last fall she competed in a 5K race at Camp Mabry.
Nearly 700 people participated in Sunday’s 15th edition of Jack’s Generic Triathlon at Lake Pflugerville. The event offered three versions of the race – a sprint, with a 500-meter swim, 12.9-mile bike and 3-mile run; an intermediate, with a 1,000-meter swim, 25.8-mile bike and 6-mile run; and an aquabike, with a 1,000-meter swim and 25.8-mile bike.
Paul “Barny” Williams won the overall race with the time of 1 hour, 53 minutes and 18 seconds. Second and third place went to Antonio Ferreira Da Silva Neto and Brendan Loehr, who crossed the finish line in 1:56:01 and 1:58:13, respectively.
Natasha Van Der Merwe won the women’s race in 2 hours, 7 minutes and 15 seconds. Desiree Berry took second in 2:09:57 and Fernanda Bau took third in 2:10:24.
Adrian Cameron (1:00:21) and Margaret Finley (1:04:40) were the male and female sprint champs.