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History made at Ultraman

The south Okanagan Similkameen is again playing host to one of North America's most challenging endurance events on the August long weekend.

Making this year's Ultraman Canada one for the history books, is the inclusion of Andre Kajlich, an accomplished paratriathlete and one of 29 entrants.

Race director Steve Brown said this is the first time a double amputee has competed at Ultraman Canada.

"Ultraman is a difficult enough event for anybody," he said. "For someone to step up and do this in these circumstances is truly inspirational and an amazing thing."

In 2003, Kajlich was a 24-year-old student studying abroad in his parents' native Prague. He'd been out late with friends then went to the local subway station to go home. He doesn't remember what happened next, but he ended up on the subway tracks as a train was arriving, the driver unable to stop in time.

He lost both his legs in the accident, and he moved home to Seattle to begin the long rehabilitation process, eventually turning to swimming for exercise.

In 2011, he learned about paratriathlons, in which some amputee athletes perform the bike portion with a hand cycle and the run in a wheelchair and he decided to train for one.

Among the highlights of his career since are 2013 first wheelchair athlete ever to complete the Brazil 135 Ultramarathon; 2013 named to Challenged Athletes Foundation Elite Paratriathlon Team; 2012 USA Paratriathlon Athlete of the Year: 2012 ITU World #1 ranking and 2011 challenged athlete of the year.

The event he is competing in starts Saturday, Aug. 2 with a 10 km swim in Skaha Lake from Penticton to Sovereign Road near Okanagan Falls. After which, athletes complete a 144.8 km bike ride through the south Okanagan, over the Richter Pass, and ending back in Kenyon Park in OK Falls.

Day 2, Aug. 3, continues with competitors cycling  a 274.2 km bike route from Penticton to Osoyoos. They return to OK Falls, then climb the Wall to Willowbrook and Twin Lakes on their way to Princeton, where they complete an out and back section to Allison Lake  to finish at the Princeton Arena.

Day 3, Aug, 4, completes the event with an 84.4 km run from Princeton to Summerland along the Old Princeton Summerland Road. The athletes finish at Memorial Park in Summerland.

Further information on the event is available at: www.ultramancanada.com.

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