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Todd Philpott

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Spotted this in the paper this morning.

http://www.theage.com.au

Todd Philpott barely finished his first disabled marathon. Today he lines up in New York as hot favourite, writes Matthew Hall.

February 18, 1992, was unfolding like any other Tuesday afternoon for Todd Philpott. Looking forward to a date that evening, he guided his motorbike along York Road, Queens Park, towards the Sydney seaside suburb of Bronte.

Caught behind a bus, he prepared to take a tight bend. Looking back, Philpott thinks the taxi that hit him had strayed onto his side of the road, but speculative details are irrelevant these days.

What is clear is that the oncoming cab knocked Philpott from his bike and forced him into the side of the bus he was about to overtake. His back took the blow, bones were fractured, his head was injured. He doesn't mention his helmet tearing his ears but does describe the punctured femoral artery that messed up the road.

He blacked out. When he awoke, days later, life was different. Very different.

Then aged 34, Philpott had been a body-builder, weight lifter and personal trainer to the stars before taking that journey down York Road. A talented child athlete, he won the 1982 Mr Australasia body-building title. Two years later, he was named Mr Sydney and Mr NSW. He moved to the NSW north coast to manage two gymnasiums.

In 1990, he left for Los Angeles, the home of body-building, and lifted weights with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, TV's Incredible Hulk.

Philpott began to lift gold, literally. Living in beachside Santa Monica, he was hired as a personal trainer at the legendary Gold's Gym and then Universal Studios. A little homesick, he was lured back to Australia to work at renowned Sydney fitness centre City Gym, but California still called.

He bought a ticket to return to LA. Before he could use it, the taxi, and the bus, hit.

"The surgeon told me he'd been working hard to save my leg but the priest was working even harder," Philpott says, laughing blackly. "They say they gave me the last rites seven times. I kept going upstairs but kept coming back down again."

The surgeon had other news for Philpott. His right leg, jammed between the bike and bus, would have to come off. There was no debate; the choice was simple — life or leg. The surgeon went to work. For many people, the story might end there and it would still be an epic tale. But for Todd Philpott, the journey had not reached the starting line. Philpott celebrates his 48th birthday in Manhattan today defending his New York Marathon title. It's the fifth year he has taken part in the world's most prestigious road race outside the Olympics.

During his first attempt in 1999, he limped the 42-kilometre course.

Then, studying for a degree in sports science in Auckland, Philpott was encouraged to take part by Peter Loft, who ran the New Zealand chapter of the Achilles Track Club, a motivational organisation for disabled athletes.

"Have a look at me," Philpott pleaded. "I'm biometrically opposed to even run for the phone. I come from a weight-lifting background and I have a leg missing. If there was an event for not running long distance, I'd be world champion."

Loft talked. Philpott flew to New York. The flight to the US was shorter than Philpott took to traverse all five New York boroughs in the race. He was so far off the pace that police held up crime scene tape as an improvised finish line when he staggered into Central Park late that night. "It nearly killed me," Philpott recalls. "It took 15 hours. I busted my shoulder. What was I thinking? Hadn't I been through enough pain?"

Battered, Philpott returned to Australia, vowing never to run again, but his competitive spirit got the better of him. He discovered the handcycle, a bicycle used by athletes without functioning lower limbs. Years of upper-body work paid off.

Philpott returned to New York 12 months later. With his handcycle, he finished third. The following year, he won the Havana Marathon. The 2004 Athens Paralympics loomed before funding for handcyclists was cut. Philpott read in the newspapers that the Athens gold-medal winner was minutes slower than his best time.

Last year, Philpott lined up at the New York Marathon's Staten Island start line. The starting pistol's crack launched him towards Brooklyn behind a team from the Netherlands. Handcycling is not a polite sport. Philpott and the Dutchmen sledged each other. "Please don't tell me that I have come all the way from Australia and you're not even going to be competitive with me," Philpott roared.

Philpott finished the course in 77 minutes — 10 minutes ahead of his nearest (Dutch) rival. He took nine minutes off the world record.

He arrived in New York this week after winning a half-marathon in Washington DC against a field of US Marine veterans injured in Iraq. He is confident about defending his title in tomorrow's event. He says he's inspired by his charity work, including the Achilles Track Club and Limb Kids, a support group for limb-deficient children. "When I start the race I will say to the other competitors, 'Take a ticket and wait in line behind me. I have thousands of kids pushing me up the hills."'

The New York City Marathon starts at 2.10am tomorrow, Melbourne time.

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Yet another incredible story of triumph over adversity. It is impossible not to admire and respect the people who achieve so much.

But we all achieve in our own way, I have found every day brings another 'first' be it walking unaided, or climbing stairs properly, bringing my wife a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. They are all my personal marathons and I bet every one here can relate to that.

Mike

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But we all achieve in our own way, I have found every day brings another 'first' be it walking unaided, or climbing stairs properly, bringing my wife a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. They are all my personal marathons and I bet every one here can relate to that.

Wow...I sure can relate to that, Mike! :angry: Every day that I wake up & acheive a new goal in my personal marathon.(At least, it has since I have been mobile...)

I always amaized on how one person can achieve when they have their mind to do so!

Patti

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I can totally relate, Mike. I will never run a marathon. Heck, I'll never run. But you know what, I wasn't doing that before my amp :P . As you and Patti said, there are those every day personal marathons and I'm proud of every little thing I accomplish.

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Wow Cat - when I started to read it I thought : oh another amputee hard luck story just because he was 'somebody' before.

But holy moly - this guy IS awesome, so worthy of his space in the paper. What an amazing story.

*Sigh* - ok, I feel lazy and whiney again. I promise to change. :P

Thanks so much for that, I hope you share the update on Todd's new race today with us. I'd like to know how it went.

Ally

:)

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:lol: :lol: Marcus, you really are on the ball this year for the Christmas lights..don't think my hubby even has remembered where he stored them <_< when they were took down last year.

:D :D eag

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Mike how very true, we all do achieve in our own way, no matter how big or small it may be. I have nothing but the greatest respect, for such high achievers abled to

accomplish their goals. Just as I do for anyone, who may be more limited, yet manage to accomplish their goals as well. I keep myself busy and though it may not seem like much to some, it's my way of achieving a little something each day. :D

Cat thanks for sharing and please let us know how Todd makes out. He is truly amazing and such an inspiration to others. :)

Sheila lbk

Maine USA

Keep Smiling :)

post-8-1131308649.gif

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Results just in for the New York Marathon Handcyclers

1 1 Gordian Minz (35) MEX 1:21:25 32:55 58:41 3:06

2 2 Todd Philpott (48) ATC, AUS 1:26:24 40:56 1:04:34 3:17

3 3 Roland Ruepp (40) ITA 1:26:34 40:57 1:04:35 3:18

4 4 John Vink (44) ATC, NED 1:29:13 19:26 41:46 1:06:42 3:24

5 5 Theo Geeve (49) ATC, NED 1:29:16 40:57 1:06:32 3:24

6 6 Bogdan Krol (49) ATC, POL 1:29:18 19:26 41:45 1:06:42 3:24

7 7 Alfonso Zaregoza (35) MEX 1:29:39 37:38 1:05:19 3:25

8 8 Ronald Vincenten (32) ATC, NED 1:32:24 44:33 1:10:22 3:31

9 9 Bill Schwarz (60) ATC, NY 1:39:32 47:45 1:15:28 3:47

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Woooooooohoooooooooooooooo!

Way to go Todd!

Thanks for the update Cat.

Ally

:D

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I met Todd in Central Park in New York. It was so inspiring! He showed me how to hand-cycle. It's really a great sport. I would love to participate in the NYC Marathon. I never thought I could participate in a marathon before but meeting Todd gave me a lot of hope.

I wanted to thank Todd for this amazing experience! He's a wonderful person. What an inspiration!

Gwen :)

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Guest bearlover
I can totally relate, Mike. I will never run a marathon. Heck, I'll never run. But you know what, I wasn't doing that before my amp :P . As you and Patti said, there are those every day personal marathons and I'm proud of every little thing I accomplish.

I will never run either! Heck Iam happy just to be able to do what I can do too! I have stoped compareing my self to other amputees and what they can do. I could never run before so I don't expect to now :blink: I was always very limited and challanged. I feel that the amputation has made me some what worse. However, I will NEVER give up. On trying.!!

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