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A Trio of Firsts

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In a year when physically challenged athletes came closer to the long-awaited creation of a Paralympic triathlon, U.S. ParaTriathletes seem to be making the best of their offseason and have turned in three outstanding “first-ever” performances this winter.

Jason Lester, 34, of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, became the first challenged athlete to complete the entire Ultraman World Championships in the race's 24-year history. The Ultraman consists of a 6.2-mile swim and a 90-mile ride on day one, then a 171-mile ride on day two ending on day three with a double marathon. Jason’s time was 32:01 and he finished in 24th place overall. Lester has earned a medal in each of the past two ITU World Triathlon Championships in the upper extremity division.

Sandy Dukat became the first above-knee amputee woman to go under 5 hours for a marathon when she shattered Sarah Reinertsen’s record of 5:27:04 by 47 minutes.

Sandy’s 4:40:46 was turned in at the Rock and Roll Marathon in Phoenix on January 18. Dukat is a two-time ITU World Triathlon gold medalist and a three-time Paralympic skiing bronze medalist. Dukat, 36, works for The Hartford and lives in Denver, Colo.

Amy Dodson has two below-knee ITU World Triathlon Championships, three Ironman distance finishes and once held the world marathon record in her category, but apparently those feats weren’t enough of a challenge.  

On February 7 at the Rocky Raccoon 50-mile race in Huntsville, Texas,  Amy became the first female amputee to complete a 50-miler when she went 12:38:01. A cancer survivor (which also took one of her lungs), the 46-year-old Dodson teaches fourth grade outside Tucson, Ariz.

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