Ask McFartnuggets: “Is it Okay For Someone in a Motorized Wheelchair to Do a Marathon?”

Dear McFartnuggets: 
So my Aunt Helen’s dream has always been to run in a marathon, the only problem is she became paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident last year. She’s in a motorized wheelchair now and still wants to “run” in a marathon. Do you think she should? I want her to, but a lot of people have been opposed to it saying that it’s unfair because she’s got a special engine installed in her wheelchair with nitrous oxide boosters. She gets like 50 miles to a gallon so she can make a 26 mile marathon like nothing. Is this okay? Should we be supporting her through this? -- Debbie from Detroit, Michigan

Dear Debbie:
That’s a tricky situation. I think people in motorized wheelchairs should be allowed to “run” in marathons providing they don’t have too many competitive advantages. Obviously if a woman in a wheelchair wins because she’s going 40 mph then no one’s going to declare her the true winner. That doesn’t hurt anyone so that’s fine. Now if she’s got a wedge plow on the front of her chair to knock people out of the way then that would be bad. There has to be a limit to how many add-ons can be put on the chair. The more add-ons there are the less their accomplishment will mean. As long as the racer knows this then I say go right ahead.

Some of these are very high performance machines.

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