Paralyzed Skateboarder Hopes To Compete In L.A. Marathon
Jesse Swalley hopes to compete in next year's Los Angeles Marathon, even though he only has the use of one leg: The former Navy man from Sylmar wants to compete the way he usually gets around, on his skateboard.
Swalley, a badass mustachoied 51, tells the LA Daily News that he became paralyzed in his left leg after he was stabbed in 1991. He's only recently started skateboarding and is hoping that the marathon rules can be bent to allow him and his skateboard in.
He rides his skateboard on his knees, using his hands to propel himself. He wears gloves (aka "Shoves") he makes himself out of running shoes, he tells the site Adrenaline-Fueled.
Steve Sugerman, a spokesman for ASICS L.A. Marathon said that skateboards are not currently allowed but hinted that an exception might be made for Swalley. A precedent was set by Lance Benson, a legless man who was allowed to compete in several marathons, including the L.A.'s, on a skateboard.
Swalley, like Benson, would be in the Athletes With Disabilities category and not eligible for prizes if he's allowed to compete.
Benson told the Daily News that when he tried to compete in the L.A. marathon, he was told to use a wheelchair, but ignored that advice. "I just showed up and did it and nobody cared... I don't bother the runners, they've been receptive."
Swalley is hopeful he will also get the green light, saying he hopes to be an inspiration to a friend who recently became confined to a wheelchair. "The more people that see me, the more people I will be able to motivate to do stuff," he said.
His recent feats including skating over 22 miles in the Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon in San Diego last year. He's also participated in three CicLAvias, logging 18 miles in the most recent one. He usually skateboards 5 to 10 miles a day.
In an interview with the Adrenaline-Fueled site, he said that the stabbing outside a bar in 1991 cut his spinal cord. "I got stabbed in the back and [under my arms]. They said I was gonna lose use of both legs and this arm, and I was in a wheelchair for awhile. I was told the day after I got stabbed, after the surgery, they said I'd never walk again. The first thing I said is if I can't walk how can I skate?"
With no muscle control in his left leg, he relies on a brace. He didn't start skating again until 2011 when he accidentally discovered a way to skate again so he could enter a Venice skateboarding parade.
"I was messing around in my house and I sat on my board in the position I ride in, I pushed myself around and figured I could do it so I gave it a shot and did it. Ever since then I've been skating," said Swalley.
As he tells the Daily News of his rediscovered love of skateboarding: "It's freedom. It's moving without a lot of power, especially downhill. It's just really cool."