Women’s Wednesday: Colorado’s Becky Piper tackles San Diego Triathlon Challenge

By Becky Piper

Three years ago, barely a year into recovery from the scariest and most devastating day of my life, I stood volunteering for the San Diego Triathlon Challenge. Surrounded by people with all different disAbilities, I said to Sam, “You know what? I’m going to be back but I’m going to be on the starting line.” He said, “Yes you will.”

Three years later, I stood getting ready to race. Even though the swim was cancelled (the waves were HUGE), I was ready to start the 44 mile bike. I inched slowly closer to the start. I didn’t start with most of the challenged athletes because I was chatting it up with April, my shadower for the bike. We started up the first hill. We thought it was kind of tricky but we were glad it was done. I knew there was a bigger hill coming but honestly, without riding it, I didn’t really know… 1 ½ miles later, we started up Mt. La Jolla Shores Drive (I heard someone call it that and thought it was very appropriate…) I was getting a little cranky, so I started doing math problems as I went up that mean ol’ mountain. 2 plus 2 is 4… 4 plus 4 is 8… and so on aaalllll the way up that hill. I saw multiple people walking. That’s how I knew this thing was no joke. But I finally made it!

A few miles of pedaling later, April and I suddenly heard whooping and crazy yelling coming from the side of the road… that’s right, there was my husband, my sister, my mom, and some of our friends all shouting from the side of the road. I looked at April, said “That’s my family right there!” We kept on going and came upon THE DOWNHILL. I started my adding trick again. I swear, we went 2 miles downhill. Somehow we got down that thing still on the bike.

From there on out I kind of blocked the hills from my mind because the whole ride was hills. The course was kind of a lollipop shape, and we got back to the stick part of the lollipop, which was at the bottom of THE DOWNHILL. So I changed its name to THE UPHILL. It took a solid 10 minutes of going. Constant. Going. I even passed some other racers! Finally I made it to the top. Such a glorious feeling! We stopper for water and Electrolytes at the aid station up there. By then it was HOT and my tummy wasn’t much of a fan of anything else.

Next, we came to the descent of Mt. La Jolla Shores Drive. It was steep. I had to whip out the ol’ math problems. But finally I made it! I rode each hill up and down WITHOUT having to walk my bike.

Finally, after one more super steep hill I made it back to transition!

I knew I couldn’t run much, but I said I would run, so I had to a little bit. I climbed up that last steep hill made it to the top and I was going to turn around right there, but one of the crossing guards encouraged me to make it to the corner. So I did. I turned around a bit after that. I knew it was time. If I had gone further, I seriously thought I was risking injury. So I swallowed my pride, and turned around and finished that crazy event UNINJURED.

And I STILL got victory pancakes! 🙂


Becky Piper – Paralyzed on right side, completes Ironman 70.3 Boulder

“Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid to not try.”
That’s Becky Piper‘s motto.

Yesterday, Becky was able to check another monstrous goal off her list – the Boulder Ironman 70.3.

A tremendous achievement for any able-bodied soul, Becky had to work harder than most, both physically and mentally, because she is paralyzed on her right side.
Just four years ago she was an accomplished runner and XTERRA athlete, living in Guam with her husband Sam, stationed in the military there. During a home invasion, she was beaten, and according to doctors, was with an hour of dying. But she didn’t die. She survived, and learned to talk and eat and walk again.
In June, 303 reported on Becky’s “comeback” off-road triathlon at XTERRA Lory:
Becky Piper: Xterra Nats qualifier, savagely attacked, comatose & paralyzed, and back to Xterra again – at local Lory race

We followed her closely yesterday as she tackled the next goal on her list, IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder.
303’s Para-Tri ambassador Sasha Underwood is a close friend of Becky’s, and frequent training partner and guide. She was at every turn of Saturday’s race, and was overwhelmed with pride and emotion as Becky hit each milestone.

Becky is everything I strive to be; sheer grit, tenacious, positive, gracious, kind, courageous, strong, an amazing sense of humor, and she’ll probably kill me for saying this but she is inspiring – but not because she has a disability .. it’s because she finds a way to do anything and everything whether it’s racing, or becoming a USAT coach, she doesn’t accept “no” or “can’t” and nothing can stop her.

Sasha captured these pivotal moments of Becky being carried out of the water by her husband, and the crowning moment of crossing the finish line, just behind the similarly-inspiring story of Team Agar.
Swim exit video:

Finish video

Read today’s Times-Call article for more on Becky Piper, including the special Allard Brace she uses, her husband’s tough love, and this observation:

Becky Piper said she hopes news of her first Ironman 70.3 reaches someone who is living with a mobility issue.

“I just want to get the word out that if you have foot drop, then your life and your quality of life isn’t over,” she said. “There’s tools out there and there is technology out there to improve your quality of life. And not to give up. Don’t give up.”