Monday, May 9, 2016

The Desert Challenge Games and I'm Not the Only One Writing About Matt

On Wednesday, Matt will depart for the Desert Challenge Games, which will be held at Arizona State University, May 11-15, 2016.  This event is part of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics Grand Prix, and the only event taking place in the United States.  Matt needs to attend to renew his IPC classification, which expires this year.  Two years ago, Matt was classified as a T12 athlete.  In order to receive his classification appointment, we had to provide lots of updated paperwork on Matt's vision.  Unlike some visual impairments, Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy is not degenerative.  That doesn't mean that age won't negatively impact his vision one day, but it does mean that since he was diagnosed in 2000, his vision has been stable.  Every year Matt goes in to see his Neuro-Ophthamologist for what Matt calls his annual "I'm still blind appointment."  We expect that Matt will once again be classified as a T12.  Matt does not run with a guide on the track because his peripheral vision, the only vision he has, allows him to see the track lanes.  If he were to be categorized as a T11 runner, he would be required to have a guide and to wear blackout glasses so he would not have an advantage over the other T11 runners.  Both would be detrimental to Matt -- he's never trained on the track with either and he would have no guide with him to compete.  But again, we expect he'll be reclassified as a T12 athlete.  His classification appointment is on Thursday.

Friday night, he'll race the 5,000 meters.  There are currently five runners registered for this event so he will have competition.  This will hopefully push him to run his fastest.  He needs to shave 79 seconds off of his 5K time to meet the Rio standard.  The Desert Challenge will give us a good indication on whether that is possible.  I hope it is.  

Saturday night, Matt will race the 1500 meters.  It is less likely that Matt will meet the Rio standard in this event, but he will race it anyway.  It is a long way to travel to only do one event.  Twenty people are scheduled to race this event.  
Neither of these events at the Desert Challenge Games will impact his chances to make the US Team.  The sole determinant for that is his times at Nationals in June.  But as I have said before, we are expecting that he'll close in on that 79 second gap.  I plan to have several posts between now and Saturday giving you updates on the Games and Matt promises to take lots of photos since I won't be there with him.  However, the whole family will drive down to Charlotte in June. Who doesn't like a cheering section, right?!

I'm not the only one who is writing about Matt these days.  There is an article on Matt in the Summer 2016 edition of Run Washington.  If you're local, you can pick up a print copy in your local running store.  I plan on picking up a lot.  For those out of the area, here is a link to the digital copy (his piece starts on page 41).  The photo was taken a few weeks ago on a freakishly cold day in April on Braddock Road, about a quarter mile from our house.  

And finally, I'll put in another request for you to consider making a tax-deductible donation to Matt via the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes here to help offset Matt's travel expenses for this final push to make the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Team.  Other than a free Brooks running outfit and set of racers, we have funded this journey ourselves.  

More soon...


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  2. good luck matt!!! -alex from the gallaudet race

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