Full speed ahead
Brad Saens, RN, was on a roll — winning every duathlon he entered and setting course records in 2009 — when a driver going 65 mph hit him on his bike from behind on a highway near Kingman, Kan., in February 2010.
The impact shattered Saens’ carbon-fiber bike and temporarily upended his career as an IV therapist at Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita. But with help from Mike Reynolds and Donna Schmidt, Via Christi occupational therapists, Saens is a champion again and skillfully inserts patients’ IV and central lines.
The 42-year-old has now qualified for the ITU Duathlon World Championship Sept. 22-23 in Nancy, France. Saens competes in standard distance duathlons — typically a 35K bike ride sandwiched between two 5K runs.
“I felt something had been taken away and I really wanted it back,” says Saens about recovering after the accident in which he suffered a knee fracture, an Achilles tendon tear, and more important to his career, a broken right hand and wrist.
Since returning to competition, Saens — who took up cycling in 2008 with a colleague looking for a training partner — has won all but two of his races.
“There’s just this sense of freedom in the world when I’m running or riding. This is so much better than anything else I’ve ever done,” says Saens, who has a first-degree black belt in tae kwon do and several state arm-wrestling championships, too. “I don’t see myself not doing this kind of training.”