Cowboys & Indians

CHANGING COURSE

IT’S HARD TO SWIM WHEN YOUR LEGS don’t work. George Hammel, who was paralyzed at 19 by injuries suffered in a motocross race, knows this, but he entered an Ironman triathlon anyway. He spent more than a year training, and the 1.2-mile swim that opened the race proved to be one of the toughest physical challenges of his life.

After he got out of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, he pulled on leg braces he’d built himself, strapped himself onto a bicycle, and started pedaling, with 56 miles ahead of him. Soon he arrived at the base of a mountain. Up, up, up it went. Every time Hammel thought he arrived at the top, he discovered he had only arrived at a false summit.

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