Wheel Chair Racing

Wheel chair racing is an exhilarating sport that takes place on a street, track or off-road course. Events are held for both power and manual chair users. Athletes with all types of physical disabilities can compete and, like other wheelchair sports competitions, racers are classified based on their physical challenges and capabilities.

Wheelchair track races include the following events:

  • Sprint Distance – 100m, 200m, 400m
  • Middle Distance – 800m, 1500m
  • Long Distance – 5000m, 10,000m
  • Relay – 4 x 100m, 4 x 400m

Distance competitions for road races begin at 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) and range up to full-marathon distances of 42.195 kilometers (26 miles and 385 yards) for major wheel chair racing events such as the Boston Marathon and Oita International Wheelchair Race in Japan.

Power wheelchair racing is a relatively new sport where electric chairs of varying speeds are used to compete on off-road courses. There are five racing classes and each athlete is matched with other participants based physical ability, power chair speed, and racing experience.

How to Get Involved

Wheel chair races are held around the globe and have been a part of the Summer Paralympic Games since 1960. If you want to get involved in the sport, contact one of the following associations for entry guidelines, competition schedules, locations, training tips and participation details.

  • British Wheelchair Racing Association (www.bwra.co.uk)
  • Power Wheelchair Racing Association (www.powerwheelchairracing.com)
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America (www.pva.org)
  • Hand Crank Racing Association (www.shasta.com/geneva/CrankRace/)
  • American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (www.adaptedsports.org)
  • Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association (www.cwsa.ca)
  • Wheelchair Race Series-British Columbia (www.wcraceseries.com)
  • Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports (www.wsusa.org)
  • Oita International Wheelchair Marathon (www.wheelchair-marathon.com)
  • Boston Marathon (www.bostonmarathon.org)

If you have suggestions for other adaptive racing organizations to be added to this list, please complete our short contact form and let us know. For other wheelchair sports organizations worldwide, click here.

In addition to contacting a national or regional racing organization, you can learn more about the sport by attending wheelchair racing events or related sports clinics in your area -- and network with other racers.

To effectively compete in wheelchair racing requires extensive training and the right equipment. Racing chairs are custom designed and built to suit the type of competition and each athlete's specific physical needs.

Technologically advanced designs, special chair components and lightweight materials enable wheelchair athletes to achieve significant, hand-propelled speeds during road and track competitions.

For each type of race, there are specific wheelchair equipment requirements that the sponsoring organization will provide. In addition, helmets and racing gloves are necessary to compete.

For more information on wheelchair sports activities and how to get involved, click here.

Related Information

Wheelchair Sports Resources
Sports Wheel Chairs
Extreme Sports
Wheelchair Rugby
Wheelchair Tennis
Wheelchair Basketball Rules


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Published by Jules Sowder







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