The increasing participation in competitive athletics by persons with disabilities calls for research examining differences and similarities between athletes with and without disabilities. This study examined these similarities and differences within the context of a 10K road race. Employing the Importance-Performance Scale, all entrants (n=53) in the Challenged Division of the Pittsburgh Citiparks’ Great Race were asked to rate the importance of some 31 attributes associated with a 10K race and respond to a series of open-ended questions. Of the 31 questionnaires returned, 29 were deemed usable. A random sample of runners (n=1,000) without disabilities was administered an identical questionnaire, and 661 of the 678 questionnaires returned were usable. The results of a MANOVA yielded significant differences between the overall responses of the challenged runners and the general running population, F(31, 570) = 2.26, p <.0001. Multiple t test analysis of attribute ratings identified four features as being significantly different (.01) between the two populations. These differences were grouped and analyzed under three categories (recognition, safety, and convenience). The t test coupled with a content analysis of open-ended responses underscored the similarities among the two groups. Although race organizers need to be responsive to the differences of individual participants, these findings would suggest that the integration of all participants is an attainable goal.
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