By Randy Pierce
“I find it hugely inspiring to meet and run alongside other people who are on their vision loss journey. Together, we can help educate and change public perception of what people who are visually impaired are capable of.”
– Richard Hunter
While it’s a little anti-climactic to come off my Bay State Marathon “failure” at mile 23+ (when my missing bag of nutrition, which had fallen out at mile one, finally caught up with me), this only serves to highlight some of the additional challenges faced as a blind athlete. I’m all the more proud and dedicated to the next six weeks to prepare for another marathon on the opposite coast, and this time it will be with a host of incredible blind and visually impaired athletes joining together at the California International Marathon on December 7.
The USABA National Marathon Championships, sponsored by VSP Vision Care, runs in conjunction with the California International Marathon on December 7, 2014. Since the CIM adopted the Visually Impaired Division in 2007, participation of visually impaired and blind runners has steadily grown from 2 to more than 30 participants. Runners travel from across the United States and from other nations. Participants include blinded veterans, paralympic athletes, world champions, and many novice runners just beginning their athletic careers. Each athlete has a compelling and unique story of their own, and together are able to inspire, educate, and change the public’s perception of vision loss.
I invite you to explore the list of athletes and their incredible stories hosted on the United States Association of Blind Athletes site.
I’m often described as competitive and certainly believe there’s much truth to those words. I hope my drive and perseverance are tempered with the ability to appreciate many aspects of any experience. My goal for Bay State had been a sub-4-hour marathon and I was still solidly on track when the incident took place. My goal for C.I.M. is different despite the many athletes sharing similar challenges to my own.
Due in part to the proximity of my last marathon and to the desire to share this epic marathon experience with my good friend, Jose Acevedo, my goal is for we novice marathoners to stay comfortably within ourselves and finish with a better time than both of our first marathons. He set his goal and long training process specifically to be my Guide for this race and I’m honored, touched, and enthused to share the experience with him. Any marathon will challenge a person to dig deeply within themselves and as we run this as a team, it will provide times when we both have to encourage and support the other.
Success has to be earned for every possible goal in such races and I intend to grow my foundation of ability and preparation continually, perhaps someday ready to challenge more competitively at such an event. For now I hope to celebrate our success, our friendship, the event, and a host of incredible athletes sighted and less so who will make this experience part of what life is about!