August 3, 2013

Beach to Beacon: Wheelchairs

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

CAPE  ELIZABETH — Krige Schabort had never competed in the TD Beach to Beacon 10K. When he saw the course Friday, he thought it would be perfect for him.

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Krige Schabort grew up in South Africa and lives in Georgia, but he certainly felt at home on Saturday in his first time competing in the Beach to Beacon 10K. His time of 21 minutes, 53 seconds was the best ever on the course.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Christina Kouros might have been the only woman in the wheelchair division, but she posted her best time on her hometown course. “My town knows I do my best,” she said.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

He was right.

Schabort, a South African native who now lives in Cedartown, Ga., set a course record for the men’s wheelchair division Saturday, finishing the race in 21 minutes, 53 seconds. The previous record, set in 2007 by Patrick Doak, was 23:27.

Craig Blanchette, a two-time winner of the race, finsihed second in 23:46.

“It was a great race,’’ said Blanchette, of Battle Ground, Wash. “Actually it was, in my 20-plus yaers of racing, I would say it was a perfect day. Cloud cover, temperature was great, slight tailwind, road conditions were great.

“The only problem was that someone was in front of me.’’

Christina Kouros, 18, of Cape Elizabeth was the only competitor in the women’s wheelchair division. She finished in 41:17 – 1:10 faster than her runner-up time from 2012 and 8:20 better than her winning time in 2011.

“My goal was to beat my time from last year,’’ said Kouros, who leaves for her freshman year at the University of New Hampshire on Aug. 23.

Asked if there was any pressure on the local kid to do well, Kouros said, “I think there is, but there isn’t. My town knows I try my best. I feel the pressure is more from me, what I put on myself. I’m just trying to inspire more kids to get out there. There aren’t that many (wheelchair) athletes out there. I hope to get more kids out there.’’

Schabort, 49, entered the race after talking to Blanchette and Jacqui Kapinkowski, a two-time winner of the women’s wheelchair race, at another event. He lost both of his legs 26 years ago in Angola when, while serving with the South African military, a bomb exploded about 3 yards away from him.

“Long story short, I was not supposed to be alive, here today,’’ he said.

But he survived the explosion, and a year later began competing.

“I’m here to spread my story,’’ he said. Schabort is recognized as one of the world’s top wheelchair racers. He’s a four-time winner of the Falmouth Road Race and a member of the U.S. Paralympics team.

He loved everything about the race, explaining that the coastline reminded him of the coastline back in Cape Town.

He went out quickly and slowly extended his lead on Blanchette, gaining momentum from the crowds cheering him on.

“I knew it was my kind of course, rolling terrain,’’ he said. “I could really make a lot of speed into the hills and down the hills. I didn’t check my time until that turn into (Fort Williams Park).’’

That’s when he thought he could break the course record.

“I was very happy with that,’’ he said. “This is a great event.’’

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

Twitter: MikeLowePPH
 

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