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Wheelchair racer Greg Queen seeking 13th straight Bluegrass 10,000 victory

cbertram@herald-leader.com

The many people who attend the Bluegrass 10,000 every year have likely become familiar with Greg Queen.

He has won the hand-cranked wheelchair race the past 12 years, some of those times by double-digit minutes. Queen also owns the course record at 17:52 over the 10-kilometer course.

However, Queen is more than just a man who continuously breaks the tape year in and year out at the Bluegrass 10,000.

“Anybody that you talk to about Greg will tell you what an amazing overall person he is,” said Trina Queen, Greg’s wife. “He’s never, from the time he was injured at 18, let this injury get him down, he’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do.”

Greg Queen, who is from Laurel County, first got involved in wheelchair racing in 1996 just three years after his paralyzing accident. Shortly after that, in 1998, Queen competed in the World Wheelchair Games in London, England, where he took home one gold and two silver medals.

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Greg Queen (yellow shirt on the right) moves up in a race in Rome, Ga. in 2010. Queen will be going for his 13th consecutive victory at the Bluegrass 10,000 on Tuesday, July 4. Photo sent by submission

Queen also won a bronze medal at the 2011 USA Cycling Paralympic Road Nationals.

Whenever Queen was not competing against the best hand-crank cyclists in the world, he liked to bike multi-day Omnium races.

“We would do like anywhere from a 6- to 15-mile time trial in one day,” he said. “The next day we would do anywhere from a 25- to 45-mile road race. And then the final day we’d do a 45-minute timed race, which would end up being at least 15 to 20 miles. We were packing in a lot of the miles, so that’s why this one was easy for me.”

However, a torn rotator cuff in 2011 and an ATV crash in 2013 resulting in a broken sternum, pelvis, femur and several ribs have prevented Greg in competing in the races he used to.

“The injuries definitely played a big role on how I’m training now and, of course, I’m getting older so that don’t help, but I just got to rest more than I used to,” Queen said. “The short races are no problem for me like this one (Bluegrass 10,000), but the longer ones take a toll on me.”

Queen will likely race the Bluegrass 10,000 until he retires from road racing, but when that day comes Queen will still have plenty to occupy his time.

Queen, who has two children, has taught his kids one of his favorite hobbies, dirt bike riding.

“He gets no more enjoyment than watching his kids ride dirt bikes because that was his love when he was growing up,” Trina Queen said.

Greg Queen’s family also enjoys watching him ride in the Bluegrass 10,000.

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Greg Queen with his family at the 2015 Bluegrass 10,000. From L-R: Tori Queen, Trina Queen, Greg Queen and Braden Queen Photo sent by submission

“They look forward to this,” Trina Queen said. “I asked them the other day did they want to go or stay with their grandparents. I’ve never given them that option, I’ve just always took them, and Braden (Queen’s son) was like, ‘I want to go, I love seeing daddy race, I want to see daddy win.’”

Queen also owns a motorcycle shop called Queen’s Custom Cycles. He customizes motorcycles, trikes and sidecars for paralyzed customers while also providing general repairs.

All of the things that Queen balances in life have impressed many, including a friend who has won the Bluegrass 10,000 nine times himself.

“That takes a lot of work, to get up every morning, to get into a wheelchair, then to get to work but then to still spend time with the kids, but yet still have time to train. That’s a lot of commitment for everything he does,” said Paul Erway, who competes in the Bluegrass 10,000’s push rim wheelchair division.

Chris Leach: 859-231-1326, @chrisleach250

Bluegrass 10,000 race start times

7:28 a.m.: Push rim-wheelchair/hand-cranked wheelchair start

7:30 a.m.: Runner/walker start

8 a.m.: Fun Run start at Short Street

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