Running from Boston to New York. Blind.
“Blind ultra runner” is not a phrase you hear often, yet this is exactly how one would describe our friend Simon Wheatcroft. He lost his sight at the age of 17 due to a genetic degenerative eye condition – Retinitis Pigmentosa. He began a journey to adapt to his new world, and with the aid of a smartphone and the feeling underfoot, Simon began to run solo outdoors. Seven months later, he ran his first race – an astonishing 100 mile distance.
Simon is now legally blind, but competes in road races of all distances. His latest accomplishment is running from Boston to New York City over the course of 9 days, and competing in the New York City Marathon upon arrival. At 260 miles total, that’s a full marathon every day on his way to New York. His crew had a Montague Crosstown with them so someone could ride alongside Simon the whole way.
The natural question is “How exactly does someone run blind?”. Simon started by memorizing the feeling under his feet of a familiar path near his home. This was accomplished with the help of a smartphone app called Runkeeper which reads aloud distance and pace information. The app allowed him to associate those feelings with distance markers provided by the app. After he got bored of his well known path, he secretly learned to run other routes near his home. This time, he did it solo. He made the decision that blindness would not stop him from doing things he is physically capable of.
While running new routes, Simon will have someone else with him to provide guidance and warn him of any road hazards. Few people are physically capable of the extended running Simon undertook on his way to New York, so to make sure someone can always be next to him, Montague provided the team with a bike. Someone was always able to ride alongside when necessary, and thanks to the folding design, the bike could be kept in the car trunk when not needed.
Simon completed his run to New York on schedule, and finished Sunday’s New York City Marathon with a time of 5:13:18. Congratulations Simon! We couldn’t be happier to have provided some help along your journey, and we can’t wait to see what you accomplish next!
Simon’s blog: http://www.andadapt.com/
Corneliuz’s blog (Simon’s lifelong friend and part of the Boston to NYC team): http://corneiliuz.com/
Airbnb (provided hosts to Simon along the way): http://www.airbnbnycmarathon.com/host-simon