Trish Downing

Trish DowningTRISH DOWNING is a triathlete who is “redefining able” as the second female wheelchair racer (first female paraplegic) to complete an Iron distance triathlon. Growing up, she was a high school varsity gymnast and swimmer, and a Division I diver in college. While completing her masters in Physical Education and Sports Management, she did an internship at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs that sparked her interest in cycling, and from 1997 to 2000 was a competitive road and track cyclist. Her career was cut short on September 17, 2000, when she was hit head-on by a car while on a training ride, and sustained a spinal cord injury that paralyzed her from the chest down.

Trish DowningBut within five months of her near-fatal crash, Trish was training again. She entered her first post-accident event in June 2001 at the Kona Half Marathon, and hasn’t stopped since. A world-class athlete who has competed on the US National Paratriathlon Team, she has an inspiring track record of completing over 20 marathons and a variety of triathlons from sprint to Iron distance.

As one of the few female paraplegic triathletes in the world, Trish is an ambassador for her sport and serves as a spokesperson for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. To spread the message of hope, she shares her inspirational story in a variety of venues. Her autobiography, Cycle of Hope, was published in June 2010 and she’s been featured in publications like Women’s Adventure Magazine and The Denver Post. She was one of four athletes featured in the Disney film Superior Beings, which aired on ESPN, and was also featured on Life Moments, a women’s news and features show that aired nationally. When she’s not training, competing or attending speaking events, Trish is an accessibility consultant, inspirational speaker, and director of Camp Discovery, a camp she created in collaboration with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to give women with spinal cord disorders a place where they can redefine themselves to live strong, productive and happy lives.



  • 2010 Salt Lake City Marathon; 2nd in Fifth Third River Bank Run; 4th in Bloomsday 12K; Apple Duathlon (Qualifed for 2010 Duathlon Worlds); 1st in 2010 London Paratriathlon; 1st in Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon (qualified for Hawaii Ironman); Harvest Moon Aquabike; Rattlesnake Olympic Distance Triathlon; Hawaii Ironman
  • 2010: M.A. in Disability Studies from Regis University
  • 2006: Won National Triathlon Championship in women’s wheelchair division; qualified for Kona Ironman
  • 2005: Completed Redman Ironman, Oklahoma City, OK. Second female wheelchair racer (first female paraplegic) to complete an Iron distance triathlon.
  • 2004: Qualified for and competed in first Boston Marathon; completed first half-Ironman (Muncie Endurathon)
  • 2003: Qualified for and competed in ITU World Championships in New Zealand
  • 2001: Competed in Kona Half Marathon
  • 1998: Competed in Disabled World Championships (as a pilot)
  • 1997-2000: Competitive road and track cyclist, tandem pilot
  • 1995: M.S. in P.E/Sports Management from Eastern Illinois University
  • 1991: B.S. in Journalism (Broadcast) from University of Maryland

2011 GOALS:

  • World Duathlon Championships qualifier
  • Duathlon Worlds
  • World Triathlon Championships qualifier