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Wheelchair winner edges training pal
By Emory Skolfield, Times Correspondent
Published February 10, 2008
TAMPA - In five years of competitive wheelchair racing, Mark Ledo has traveled the globe and piled up a list of accomplishments, including a victory at the 2006 Boston half-marathon.
But as Ledo, 30, charged toward the finish line at Saturday morning's Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K wheelchair race, doubt crept in. Sprinting, by his own admission, is not Ledo's strength. The same cannot be said for fellow Canadian Michel Filteau, who engaged in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Ledo over the final 300 meters on Bayshore Boulevard.
"All I could do was just put my head down," said Ledo, who covered the 9.3-mile course in 32 minutes, 55 seconds, "and somehow managed to get him at the end."
Officially, Ledo finished one second ahead of Filteau. Tyler Byers, 25, of Sterling, Va., was third, inches behind Filteau.
Ledo, who lost his legs at age 22 after an auto accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, is in Florida training. Last week, he worked out with Filteau, 41, a Canadian Paralympian from Montreal, at a trail near the Davenport homes they're renting.
"He demolished me," Ledo said. "I've never beaten him before on the street until now."
This year's 15K elite wheelchair race was the first at Gasparilla since 1997 and drew 35 competitors from around the country.
The top Florida finisher was St. Petersburg's Scott McNeice, 53, who ended in 41:04. Diane Roy, another Canadian and Filteau's roommate in Florida, finished sixth overall and was the top woman with a time of 39:02.