Woman sets personal record in Summit Challenge | ParkRecord.com

Woman sets personal record in Summit Challenge

Emily Dunford rides in the 16-mile course of the Summit Challenge.
Photo by Tommy Elbrecht/National Ability Center

On Saturday, the National Ability Center hosted its annual Summit Challenge – a bike ride and fundraiser that the organization bills as “Utah’s largest ride for cyclists of all abilities.” The event drew an estimated 800 riders pedaling road bikes, hand bikes, and recumbent bikes.

Among them was Emily Dunford from Provo.

A series of brain tumors that started a decade ago affects Dunford’s balance.

Thus, she walks more slowly and is weakened from muscular atrophy. But she doesn’t want to live a sedentary lifestyle – that’s not how she was raised.

So when she heard about the Summit Challenge, Dunford decided she wanted to ride in the 16-mile course on her three-wheeled recumbent bike.

“The family I grew up in, everyone has always done a lot of races and marathons,” she said. “And I haven’t been able to do that for a long time – to do things like hiking – so, when I found out about this, it was something I could work towards.”

As soon as the snow started to melt in spring, Dunford started riding around trails near her home. She soon broke her previous distance record of three miles on her bike, then worked up to a 15-mile ride on the Monday before the Summit Challenge. On Saturday she joined an estimated 800 riders who rode around Summit and Wasatch County on four different courses.

After Dunford, her husband Bryan and their son Clay crossed the finish line at the National Ability Center around 2 p.m., Bryan remarked that his wife had achieved a major personal accomplishment – the farthest she had ever ridden – and recalled how she had said no to everyone who had offered to push her up the course’s hills, which she said were larger than she had expected.

“I just tried not to growl or anything,” Dunford said. “It wasn’t my most civil of times.”

She said she appreciated those who offered to help, but she felt like she needed to finish using her own power.

“It was just slow, but that’s me,” she said. “I feel like I’m a slow and steady tortoise, not the hare. But that’s OK, the tortoise keeps going – just plodding along.”

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