By Marianne Curtis
A fifty-one year old Steinbach man is celebrating a first place finish after being one of nearly 4,000 people that crossed the finish line during the Manitoba Half Marathon that took place on Father’s Day Weekend.
Harry Schaap is proud of his first place finish after he not only completed that 13.1 mile half marathon in first place but he also finished in a wheelchair. He was among 13,686 participants that took part in this year’s Manitoba Marathon, which supports the Manitoba Marathon Foundation’s projects for Manitobans living with intellectual challenges.
“It was a beautiful day and I had lots of fun,” stated Schaap. “It was encouraging how people along the course and others competitors cheered me on as I went by.”
Schaap set a goal to complete the race under two hours and he finished with a time of 1:57:07 even though he admits to being out of shape.
“I beat my last time by only 24 seconds,” Schaap added. This is not the first time that Schaap has done so well in the Manitoba Half Marathon. In 1997, he competed in his first marathon ever where he placed second place.
Since then he has competed in a number of wheelchair marathons to keep himself motivated and get back into shape. Four years ago, Schaap thought his life was over when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Six months later he was confined to a wheelchair.
Part of Schaap’s success is credited to training by wheeling in his chair twenty miles a day. However due to health reasons training this year has been difficult. He added that completing the marathon was challenging enough but finishing first among the other wheelchair competitors was an unexpected reward.
Schaap’s next challenge will be participating in the Beaches Half Marathon which takes place near Grand Beach on July 24.