Cornwall bike maker rolls out new mobility device

CARI W., A Vermont Special Olympian, tests out a RAD RaceRunner running frame at the Middlebury College track. The frame allows individuals with balance and mobility challenges propel their bodies under their own power and, if they wish to, compete in a sport.

CORNWALL — RAD-Innovations LLC, which custom builds adaptive bikes for people with disabilities, recently announced availability of its RAD RaceRunner running frame. The RAD RaceRunner running frame is designed for use by individuals challenged with balance, range of motion and mobility resulting from cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, stroke, or amputation, for example. 
Athletes use running frames to compete in the sport of RaceRunning, which is an internationally recognized disability sport. While RaceRunning is established in Europe and gaining interest in other parts of the world, its popularity has been slow to grow in North America.
The RAD RaceRunner running frame is made of aluminum and similar to a tricycle without pedals that supports the athlete as they move, say officials at Cornwall-based RAD-Innovations. Despite significant physical challenges, officials say, most athletes can propel themselves on this running frame considerably faster than they can move unassisted. The low center of gravity and frame design offers stability and poise while running or walking. The saddle counteracts lateral sway and can also be used as a seat when at rest. The RAD RaceRunner running frame rolls so freely that even someone who is restricted to a wheelchair can propel themselves by their own efforts, the company says.
“RAD is interested in RaceRunning because we see the RAD RaceRunner running frame as one of the most affordable products that can make a difference in people’s lives,” said David Black, co-owner of RAD-Innovations. “We’ve been providing products to the mobility market since 1999 and with that know-how we have the ability and sourcing to significantly improve the design, quality, cost and deliverability over similar products, as well as the experience to support and train organizations in developing local programs.”

RaceRunning is an internationally recognized disability sport and promoted by the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPIRSA).  Athletes compete on a track in distances ranging from 40 to 5,000 meters. Like many other adaptive sports, competitors are classified based on their disability, which allows athletes with physical challenges to compete on an even playing field. Originally developed in Denmark, the concept of RaceRunning was designed for foot-pushing wheelchair classes. It provides individuals who cannot compete in a racing wheelchair and/or ambulant run with opportunities for aerobic competition.
One hundred twenty athletes from 17 countries competed at the 2019 World Championships held in Copenhagen earlier this summer. There are currently 30 countries with an estimated 500 registered RaceRunning athletes with only a handful from the U.S. RaceRunning was recently admitted as a demonstration sport at the Paralympic Games.

While running frames are used in competitive environments, it’s also suitable for anyone who wants to experience the joy of movement. Company officials extol the benefits as including improved muscle tone, range of motion, cardiovascular and joint function. Often disabled persons are isolated and participating in a club-based sport allows them to be more independent, develop friendships and expand social networks.
RAD-Innovations pledged to establish a club in Middlebury. Efforts in other countries have demonstrated that the growth of RaceRunning starts at the grassroots level with the development of local clubs. Local athletes can try the sport in a low-key, supportive environment, and as a network of clubs expands, competitive opportunities will become available. Two of RAD’s employees have been certified by CPIRSA as RaceRunning coaches.
Recently, Kate McKay from Cornwall, who has cerebral palsy, tried out the RAD RaceRunner running frame. According to her father, David McKay, “She caught right on to it and put a grin on her face. Independence is important to her, and while physical therapy is very regimented, the RaceRunning frame allows Kate to use her body in different ways. One of the best aspects is that it allows Kate to explore using her body for herself. It makes her feel happy.”
The RAD RaceRunner running frame will be assembled in Cornwall and available to the North American market by late this year. Multiple sizes will be available and will be customized to individuals’ needs. 
RAD-Innovations LLC, founded by David Black and Anja Wrede, has for more than 25 years designed, manufactured, and sold adaptive bikes and products to help people gain greater mobility. 

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