Two Paralympians are among the elite athletes to compete in the 41st annual River Bank Run on Saturday in downtown Grand Rapids. Aaron Pike and Tom Davis will hit speeds of more than 18 mph, making the wheelchair and handcycle divisions two of the event’s most exciting races.
Davis, who represented Team USA in the 2016 Paralympics in paracycling, returns this year to the River Bank Run after taking three years off. Davis, an Iraqi war veteran, injured in 2006 after a roadside bomb detonated under his vehicle, is consistently ranked in the Top 10 in the world. The Fremont, Indiana resident, who won the 2014 River Bank Run’s handcycle division (male other), took first place in the Boston Marathon in both 2017 and 2018.
Pike, of Park Rapids, Minnesota, has represented the United States in Nordic skiing in the 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 Paralympic Games. Pike, who was 13 years old when he sustained a spinal cord injury while hunting, is defending his title after winning the River Bank Run Open Para Division of the wheelchair racing division in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The River Bank Run is the largest road race in the country and the only race in the world to offer a 25K wheelchair division. Using specially designed gloves and racing wheelchairs, athletes reach speeds of 18 to 20 mph or more. Handcycles have gears that enable them to propel 30 mph or faster.
Forty-eight athletes with physical disabilities are registered to compete Saturday. Many are former Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital patients introduced to adaptive sports through the hospital’s Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports program, one of the largest in the country. The Mary Free Bed Guild has sponsored the wheelchair division for the past 29 years and the handcycle division for 13 years.
ABOUT MARY FREE BED
Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. Since 1891, Mary Free Bed has restored hope and freedom through rehabilitation for children and adults who have experienced brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple traumas, amputations, cancer and other diagnoses. The combination of more than 110 specialized medical and sports rehabilitation programs and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables our specialty physicians and staff to help patients achieve outstanding clinical results.