On Tuesday, April 8, 2008, I had the privilege of running with a blind runner, Dave Heeley.
Heeley is a 50-year-old from England. He embarked on a mission to complete seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. This record-setting attempt is also an awareness cause for the Braille Institute. The first two legs he ran were in Antartica and Brazil, and the third in America. And just by luck, he chose California... Southern California... Pasadena!
So I put on my running shoes to join his entourage, which consisted of people running a lap or more from the Pasadena Marathon founders group and kids (contrary to the media releases of this event, I did not see college students). We were blessed with overcast weather and slight breezes at some parts of the route. The event seemed pretty low-key overall. One loop around the Rose Bowl is about 3 miles, so he pretty much did that loop about 8 times. It was a mostly flat loop with some minor inclines that I recall from walks/races I've done in the past. There were water stations at each mile, which also had whole Powerbars (some of their reps were relaying the run as well).
I caught the group, which was about 12 in size, at around mile 7 and stayed until mile 16. I wasn't planning on doing so much, but I felt good. We were going at approximately 10:20 pace, very steadily. I could tell he was feeling the energy from hearing the footsteps and breathing around him. I had never run with people before, so what an experience.
I'm sure you're wondering how Dave finds his way around (see picture). His sighted guide, Mac, was linked to Dave at the wrist. He definitely deserves props as well. Dave, Mac, and the rest of the entourage were very down-to-Earth, British accents and all.
Dave finished in about 4 hours and 35 minutes. The measurement was done informally on a Garmin watch. His next run is in Sydney, Australia and ends in the London Marathon on the 13th. VERY magnificent, I would say.