The Story of Athletic Amputee Sarah Reinertsen

A look at the first female amputee to win an Ironman title


Sarah Reinertsen is an athlete known by many. She likes to say that she is part human, part machine: this 34 year old inspiration to all amputees. What makes her unique is that she is a one legged triathlete training for a two legged marathon. Reinertsen is the first female amputee to have ever won an Ironman. But this is only one of many of her accomplishments.

The first ever female amputee to win an Ironman competition; Sara Reinertsen is a force not to be reckoned with. She first gained fame for her feats on the popular television show, The Amazing Race. During the 10th season of the show, Reinertsen climbed the Great Wall of China, and scaled an enormous cliff in Vietnam. But Sara Reinertsen didn’t just do all that training for television. If you can’t find her biking, running or swimming, she is most likely trying out the latest artificial limbs or rallying soldiers who have lost their limbs due to war.

She now has a new book out telling the story of her life titled: In a Single Bound. In her book she talks about the non-hereditary birth defect called proximal focal deficiency, that she has had all her life. The book covers the story of her growing up as an amputee since the age of 7, and how she overcame the struggles she went through as a child, teenager, and adult amputee.

A brief look at Sarah Reinertsen’s story:

After realizing at the age of 11 that she could run relays Sarah went home and put her sneakers on; only to become the woman she is today. At age 16 she was competing in the Paralympics in Barcelona, and today she climbed the Great Wall of China.

But there were times in her life where Reinertsen struggled with her goals. At the Paralympics Games in Barcelona she tripped at the gate, and stopped running for 2 years. After going to college and going through a period of not being comfortable in her own skin, she decided that she missed running and turned to marathons. She enjoyed watching them on television so much that it became an obsession until she decided to pursue her ultimate goal of doing an Ironman.

After 12 years of training, Sarah Reinertsen felt she was ready. However, her first attempt at Ironman Hawaii in 2004 landed her an exit slip. She missed the biking time by about 15 minutes. But, Sara signed up the next year in 2005, where she finished the race in 15 hours and 5 minutes, with over 400 2-legged people behind her still.

Today Sara Reinertsen is a spokesperson for all amputees. “My voice as an advocate for people with disabilities is breaking down walls, showing people that everyone has challenges that can be overcome with passion and hard work,” she says. And Reinertsen is no doubt an example of her own words of wisdom.

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