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Can A Blind Runner Run Solo?

Running alone can often be something to avoid. After all, running with friends is always fun, even competing in a race is a joint affair. But what if you aspire to run alone? It’s not that difficult, you just lace up your shoes and head out the door. Well it wasn’t quite that simple for me, being a blind runner, I generally need a sighted guide.

Years ago I asked myself whether or not I really did need a guide. Would it be possible to run alone? The adventure began on a soccer pitch; I would position myself between the goalposts and run up and down the field. While this fulfilled my desire to run alone, it was quite boring! The time had come to find somewhere to run that was a little more exhilarating.

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I found a closed road near where I lived and began to run up and down the road. I know what you’re thinking, but isn’t that boring too? Yes it was! It wasn’t long before the boredom and desire to run further got the better of me. By that point, I had learned to match what it felt like underfoot with Runkeeper’s audio distance ques. I pondered whether I could expand on this and head out onto the open road. One day, I stepped out onto the road, told myself that cars will move, and I ran. Over time, I learned a 3 mile route and began a wonderful journey of training to compete at the ultra distance. Now my story is one that long time fans of RunKeeper may already know. So what’s new? Well a new question has arisen, is it possible to compete solo?

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Training solo was relatively easy to achieve, mainly due to the fact I could practice the route again and again, correct any minor mistakes, and improve the next time. This isn’t really possible when competing. After all, I can’t practice the route unless I move to where the race is held! So practice is out the window because I can’t just memorize the route! The answer was in the race’s location. Is there somewhere in the world that has minimal objects and competitors to run into? Yes, there is! The desert! In the desert, there aren’t many physical objects or even a lot of competitors. There’s just one problem…how would I know which direction to run?

That is where I turned to technology. Desert races are generally point to point, Meaning you have to maintain a bearing between two locations. If I break the route into many points, I could maintain a bearing and avoid large obstacles. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Obstacles? I thought you chose the desert because there are no obstacles?” Well, I thought deserts was quite empty but it turns out that I was wrong! There are Boulder fields, ravines, peaks, bushes and a whole host of other obstacles to avoid. Never one to turn away from a challenge, I have accepted that I cannot avoid small objects. I will find them by running into them and the other stuff? Well, I will add enough points onto the route to avoid them.

The final caveat? That technology didn’t actually exist to make my goal a reality! It seemed like yet another great challenge so I set out to discover what it would take to make the technology a reality and created it myself! So everything had fallen into place; I had the race,I have the technology, and now it’s time to get out there. To discover whether or not it’s possible to compete solo and achieve my dream!

All the pieces were in place when I realized just one little wrinkle…I forgot to check how much these things cost! Turns out it’s a lot but through a little serendipity, I got shortlisted in a competition that helps you achieve the extraordinary. If I win this competition, they will cover my adventure’s cost! So I need your help! I need you to click this link (CLICK HERE) to vote for me so that I can take on this challenge and achieve the extraordinary! With you votes, you can help me discover what is possible.

Simon Wheatcroft

About the author:
Simon Wheatcroft

Simon Wheatcroft continues to adapt in order to explore the limits of what is possible with technology and determination--with the aspirations to compete as a solo athlete in some of the worlds toughest races.

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