Nancy Stevens has plenty of experience with the Pole Pedal Paddle.
Stevens, who is blind, first started racing with an Oregon Adaptive Sports team in 2013, then completed everything but the alpine leg with Renae Gibbons serving as her guide in 2014.
“This year Pat (Addobbo) emailed me and said, ‘I think you should do the whole thing, and I want to guide you,’” Stevens, 57 and of Bend, recounted. “I’m always flattered when people ask me to do that, because usually I’m the one that has to call and make that arrangement, and both Renae and Pat initiated. And I just think, wow, I guess I could do that.”
As athlete and guide, Stevens and Addobbo often trained together, simultaneously conditioning for Saturday’s PPP and making sure they were comfortable navigating the course.
“We practiced every single sport and every single leg of the race on the course,” said Addobbo, the executive director of Oregon Adaptive Sports. “Every sport is a little different in how the guide interfaces with the athlete. So skiing and cross-country skiing is very active guiding, a lot of talking. Cycling and paddling is not as much. Running is a lot. So we had to learn all of those things.”
Stevens and Addobbo agreed that downhill skiing was the most difficult leg to master.
“At the very top, before we even started the race, I was guiding Nancy and she hit a (speed) gate and she crashed, which is such a mistake to make as a guide,” Addobbo admitted. “But we took it as, OK, we appeased the race gods, and then we had a flawless race from there.”
Stevens and Addobbo, who competed under the name “Vision Statement,” finished the race in 3:22:51.2. They were part of the largest adaptive field in PPP history, which included 50 participants broken into six full teams, three individual entries and two adaptive pairs.