More and more runners looking to give something back to the sport are now helping someone who is blind or visually impaired (VI) to share their passion by becoming a guide runner.
Guide running is a highly rewarding and challenging activity with untold benefits. Being able to run outside not only improves fitness levels but boosts confidence and fosters a greater sense of independence. Added to this is the opportunity to meet new people and socialise in a friendly environment.
There are no limits in terms of distance with guides assisting their runner at a 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon or ultra. As long as both parties are clear about what they want to achieve and in agreement then thery are able to run as fast or as far as they want. The guide employs various methods, eg verbal direction, tether, depending upon personal preference to ensure their blind/VI runner is kept safe at all times.
Two Staffordshire based runners; Emma Phillips and Duane Roberts have trained as guides and were more than willing to share their experiences.
Emma of Stone Master Marathoners has acted as a guide for Lee C Greatbach, a former Paralympic athlete turned marathon runner. She says: “It is so enjoyable. It makes you look at the routes you may have run hundreds of times in a new light so can be very refreshing.”
Duane of Cannock Chase Trail Runners ran Liverpool Half Marathon as a guide runner with both of them finishing in 1:58. He found it a mental as well as a physical workout, saying: “It was a brain testing two hours of running and I would do it all over again tomorrow.”
Image courtesy of Lincoln parkrun.