Inclusivity for all?

Monument Avenue 10K strives to include the disability community, but disappoints some parents

By Charlotte Rene Woods & Alexa Nash with reporting by Gillian Bullock & Diana DiGangi

Runners with disabilities wearing Sportables swag prepare to participate in the race. Sportables is an adaptable sports athletic organization based in Richmond that helps disabled athletes get the tools and equipment they need to participate and compete in sports. |Photo by Gillian Bullock

April 4, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. — Every spring, there comes a day that 6.2 miles of Richmond’s roads are filled with runners, joggers, walkers and people with disabilities, who are determined to participate with the aid of wheelchairs and adaptive jogging strollers. However, some people feel there are some restrictions that prohibit true inclusivity.

Video Edited by Gillian Bullock

Marshall Printy, 30, has run the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K for five years with his wife. According to Printy, last year, she alternated between running and walking the race while eight months pregnant. However, this year she was resigned to cheer him on from the sidelines due to the fact that strollers for babies are not permitted in the race.

“Unfortunately there’s not really any good options for if you have a baby,” Pinty said. “You can’t put the baby in a stroller, you can’t put the baby in a baby carrier and walk it, so it’s pretty unfortunate.”

According to the 2017 race guide, “strollers, baby joggers, animals on leashes, skates, handcycles, and bicycles” were not allowed on the course.

Meanwhile, the Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10K in Charleston, SC has approximately 31,800 participants and is the third largest race in the United States in front of Monument Avenue. It does not have official rules barring jogging strollers or wheeled devices from the race, although they are highly discouraged.

Despite the fact that baby strollers were not allowed on the course, it wasn’t uncommon to spot a person with a disability being pushed in an adaptive stroller, that is designed for jogging or running.

Bryan Mangus of Inclusive Racing, an organization that pairs able-bodied participants with participants in the disability community that are pushed in adaptive strollers explained how they got the exception to the rule.

“When we first started this thing, we weren’t allowed to do any races at all,” Mangus said. “We went through Sports Backers and Richmond Roadrunners Club to amend their bylaws.”

Both Inclusive Racing and the runners participating with the organization now have to sign waivers to gain entry to the race.

Jogging strollers, according to a Runner’s World article have “three large fixed wheels, shocks, 5-point safety harnesses.” The article referenced jogging strollers for babies and toddlers, but a similar concept is applied to adaptive strollers for the disability community.

According to 1800Wheelchair.com, a site that sells various equipment for people with disabilities, the Axiom Endeavor 2-Push Chair, this particular adaptive stroller is designed for runs and includes features such as an adjustible 5-point safety harness.

Mangus also explained that Inclusive Racing runs in a formation so that there are people who serve as buffers between other runners in the race.

According to Sports Backers’ key values, they promote inclusivity to allow all people from the surrounding area to take part in racing, and also promotes safety, which is the main reason cited by Megan Keogh, event director.

“It’s a safety concern as well as an insurance concern when there’s too many strollers mixed in with the participants,” Keogh said.

The difference between jogging strollers and the joggers for a person who is disabled is that the latter resembles a wheelchair and has bigger wheels, Keogh said, so they’re allowed during the race.

There is a stroller-friendly training program for parents with jogging strollers, but they are not allowed to participate with their strollers the day of the race.

This package was comprised of the reporting from the Virginia Commonwealth University Multimedia Journalism Graduate Program. Words by Charlotte Rene Woods and Alexa Nash. Photography by Diana DiGangi, Gillian Bullock, and Charlotte Rene Woods. Video by Charlotte Rene Woods, Alexa Nash, Diana DiGangi and Gillian Bullock. Video edited by Gillian Bullock.