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CAF athletes alongside Mission 43 are back again for Smoke 'n' Fire 400

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Posted at 1:49 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 10:03:48-04

IDAHO — Three athletes from the Challenged Athletes Foundation and two members from Mission 43 are back again trying to complete one of Idaho's hardest bike races, Smoke 'n' Fire 400.

“It’s an adventure, it’s fun, and it pushes your limits," Lucas Onan, CAF Athlete said.

This group alongside about 100 other mountain bikers took off from Hyde Park just around 4 a.m. on Wednesday.

“Smoke 'n' Fire is something to make you feel a certain way that allows you to open possibilities of what you can do as a human being,” Willie Stewart, CAF-Idaho Ambassador said.

The race is about 400 miles long and includes 41,000 feet of climbing through some of Idaho's toughest terrain. The riders have to cross rivers, climb mountains, and be prepared for anything the wilderness may throw at them.

"It was brutal. There's a lot of climbing, the weather is extreme it goes from hot to cold and so we need to be able to adapt to the climate," Mohamed Lahna, CAF Athlete said.

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"This is not a traditional event that we normally do as Challenged Athletes. This is going into the wild where there is a lot of unknown elements. Nature can be very surprising sometimes, so for us with disabilities, missing a leg, or missing an arm, we face more challenges," he added.

The race tests each rider's physical and mental toughness, and many able-bodied riders don't even complete it.

But, last year this group of CAF athletes set out to be the first people with a physical disability to complete the race.

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"I was just thinking that I couldn't believe that this was part of a race, haha, Onan said. "But, man was it cool. I was super tired you know, but I was having a blast. I was borderline delusional, talking to trees, haha. It is crazy, and you’re like well I have to keep going."

That's exactly what he did. Onan was the first and only adaptive athlete to finish Smoke 'n' Fire.

"I need to get my revenge; I am coming back better equipped with good plans to try and finish it this time," Lahna said.

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This year it's all about redemption and seeing how far they can push their limits, something this group is known for doing.

But, this race also has a bigger meaning.

"We want to show all the other adaptive athletes that it is doable," Onan said. "That we are out here like anybody else attempting something that we love to do, we love the challenge, we love the adventure, maybe at times some of us need a little bit of extra help but we are just like anybody else trying to have some fun."

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To the Mission 43 riders, this race is also to honor the lives lost on 9/11, as they hope to cross the finish line on that day.

"I’ll be thinking about it the whole time, and we as Mission 43 celebrate all those who were lost and we never want to forget," Chad Rohr, Mission 43 member said. "It is really special for us to bring that to the community and honor the heroes of that day."

To track their progress, click here.