HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The world is coming to North Alabama in May.
The Union Cycliste Internationale Para-cycling Road World Cup will be heading to Huntsville May 26-29. This will be the first time this event has been held in the United States and it is expected to bring 300 athletes plus their families and support teams to the Rocket City.
Erin Koshut, the Race Director, and Claire Aiello, VP For Marketing and Communication with the Huntsville-Madison Co. Chamber of Commerce joined Leadership Perspectives to discuss the race, and why it’s such a big deal not only for Huntsville, but for the world.
Para-athletes are ones who compete with a physical or mental impairment.
“They’ve had, whether they were born with their impairment, or whether they’ve been in a wreck… 30% of these athletes are US veterans who might have come back from war with an injury, they are competing with some sort of impairment,” Aiello said. “You may be able to see what it is, you might not know what it is. It might be a traumatic brain injury or a back injury or they might be missing a limb or paralyzed, but they are elite and you’re going to be inspired by them. They’re phenomenal.”
Some of the best para-athletes in the world, each representing their respective countries, will be descending on Huntsville to take part in this event.
“These are men and women who are world class, they are the best in the world, they are competing on the world stage ultimately to be chosen to compete in next years Paralympic Games in Paris. So you’ve got nearly 300 athletes who have physical and mental impairments who are elite athletes,” Koshut said. “They view themselves as elite athletes that are pushing the envelope of both what the human body and the human spirit can do.”
The four day event includes trials, individual races and a relay.
Friday, May 26 will be a partial day of individual time trials and that will continue all the way through the Saturday, May 27. On Sunday, May 28, road races will begin and continue into Monday, when handcycle team relay will also take place.
With the event just less than one month away, the race does still need volunteers. About 550 total volunteers are needed to ensure successful events and a successful weekend. Course marshals who sit along the course in designated areas and keep the course safe are really needed, Koshut said.
Volunteers have the opportunity to receive some Team USA merch, gift cards and other prizes. Anyone looking to volunteer just needs to be 16 or older.
To learn more about the event or to sign up as a volunteer, you can visit the UCI Para-cycling World Cup website.
For the entire discussion about the event with Koshut and Aiello, you can see the full Leadership Perspectives interview in the video player at the top of the page.