Upton House parkrun – May 7, 2022

The second Blindfold run and the first at this venue

Welcome James McCafferey to the team at Upton House

After all the excitement of running at Poole last week and seven days worth of great feedback for succeeding with the first of the ten challenges, it was a rather daunting prospect to consider the run at Upton House today. This was a first for me at this venue, although I took some comfort from the fact that John has run here before.

The team in front of Upton House – Hope it isn’t going to rain!

The Upton House parkrun organisers and volunteers led by Race Director Kirsty, gave John Baker, James McCafferey, David and I a truly fabulous reception and offered super support throughout the parkrun itself. James was guiding David for the first time in this challenge, but had guided him twice before.

Race Director for Upton parkrun with the team

Fear of the new

Last week at Poole although completely blind, I was aware of landmarks and obstacles, due to the fact I had many times run there as a fully sighted person. Although John needed to consider his orienteering skills, he could warn me of bends, bollards, sleeping policeman and general changes in terrain and I would immediately remember the severity of said obstacle or the sharpness of the bend. There are also no hills or trail ways at Poole or, as I learnt today, violent changes from dark to bright sunlight as you leave wooded areas for open spaces.

I was thinking about David who like me, had not run at Upton before. James was experienced with the course and that relaxed me a little.

James and David in full flow

I did not feel comfortable from the beginning. Although there were only 300 or so runners in today’s field, it was quite narrow and congested at the start. I urged John to take it easy in the beginning, but as the run developed it was clear from John’s soothing words that the route was opening up and we were soon confident enough to pass other runners. It wasn’t long though before the instructions from John were coming thick and fast as we switch-backed along the route, negotiated hills, violent changes in direction and different terrain underfoot. I was finding the experience quite stressful and my breathing became heavy (I told John it was hay-fever but in truth I knew it was anxiety). I needed to slow down, my confidence at what I assume was about halfway round was ebbing.

Feeling the stress of running in a totally new environment

I think I tripped once at Poole, but it was here that I had my first brush with an obstacle. we crossed a narrow bridge which I scraped against to my right. No damage done but it was certainly a harsh reminder of how difficult this challenge is and the enormous responsibility on John’s shoulders, not by his guiding a blind person at walking pace (which I am sure is stressful enough), but by guiding a blind person whilst running.

The Finish

We finished in a time of 35 minutes and 22 seconds which was considerably down on last week, but clearly shows the difficulties of the unknown and the anxieties faced when being blind.

Once again, I am completely indebted to John Baker for getting me home safely. Next week the challenge gets greater as neither of us have run at Bridport.

Near the finish

The people of Upton House parkrun cheered us on right to the end and on behalf of John, can I thank you again all for the fantastic support.

Taking the blindfold off into bright sunlight was surreal. It took a couple of minutes for me to see anything properly. I appreciate that for after 35 minutes of darkness, I was able to then see perfectly again; how lucky I am to be able to do that!

The Dorset Blind Association is a fantastic local charity that has supported blind and visually impaired people for over 100 years. If you can donate to them via this challenge report http://www.davidsguide.blog or directly on our fundraising page here, we would all be extremely grateful.

Poole parkrun – April 30, 2022

The first of ten blindfold challenges, over ten weeks at ten different courses…

The http://www.davidsguide.blog team before the first blindfold challenge at Poole – April 30, 2022

I have been guiding VI runners for three years. My regular partner, David Edwards and I have completed many runs together, from parkruns, to 10k events, The Great South Run and in a team with John Baker to help David achieve his dream of running a marathon.

While John will be my guide for the blindfold challenge, David is keen to support and we have therefore engaged some help from our friends. Julie Burden will be joining us to guide David on many of the challenges ahead. Julie has good experience as a guide and is based like all of us at the Bournemouth parkrun.

Julie Burden doing a fair impression of Usain Bolt at Poole parkrun on April 30, 2022

We are all raising much needed funds for the Dorset Blind Association a local charity to us all and one that sees over 100 years of service to blind and partially sighted folk throughout our region and further afield. You can help the DBA by donating on our fundraising page by clicking here. Thank you for your support.

We gathered in Poole Park on a glorious morning, much to the delight of John Baker (as guides we all fear runs in bad weather). The two of us were pretty nervous and although we had practiced together in Bournemouth, the prospect of running a race with maybe 700 other runners, in addition to casual park users, was really daunting. And of course there was the big question of the lake…

I had scheduled the Poole event to be the first in the blindfold challenge as (1) it is my home town and (2) this would be my 50th parkrun.

Ready as we ever were, I blindfolded up at 08.50 and jogged around the start line with John to acclimatise; then at 09.00 we were off. The first thing I noticed was that the noise generated by the 642 runners was astonishingly loud, something not noticed when running fully sighted. I had to ask John to speak up as he gave me his instructions.

Time and experience, when guiding David, has allowed our partnership to mature by us being able to construct methods and tactics for running safely together. A lexicon of words and phrases delivering critical instructions on such things as course geography and terrain, obstacles, shadows, bright sunlight (more later), pacing and finding the right moment to offer words of encouragement. John is adapting the same principals and procedures – this is wonderfully reassuring for me.

The darkness is terrifying and the hullabaloo of a race going on front, back and to the sides is most disconcerting. Even though I have run at Poole twenty plus times, I soon became disoriented. I now know how important it is for a VI guide to not only keep one safe in human traffic, switches in route and over rough terrain, but also to find the right moment to point out landmarks and milestones the further we get into a race.

The lake at Poole is large and we run close to it for about 1.5k. There are narrow sections and John was concentrating so hard to ensure that neither of us got wet. Less wide sections of a course present not only issues of us both fitting, side by side, into said section, but also appreciating the courtesy one wants to offer to other users. Many runners are in their own world, wearing headphones, concentrating on getting a personal best time. Some run with dogs and others with baby-on-board pushchairs. These guys sometimes, despite us being clothed in all the correct PPE, do not appreciate you are blind and running with a guide.

Running with others, dogs and pushchairs can be pretty tough

Experiences – Running in sunlight and the shadows

In this blog I want to be able to communicate some of the more unusual experiences running as a blind man.

There have been occasions when running with David when he has been spooked by what he assumes is a runner close in front or to the side, or an obstacle such as a lamppost looming, when actually we have a clear path ahead. He complains of the shadows being there, this is an occurrence difficult to compute as a sighted person.

At Poole I experienced this phenomenon myself when blacked-out and running around the lake. I had to keep asking John if it was safe as I could see shadowy objects in front of me and it was incredibly scary. I am guessing this is the bright sunlight playing tricks as it bounces off the water? Or is it simply my brain working overtime and a little confused, either way it is not a nice experience. John’s reassuring words were of great comfort, but despite those reassurances that the path was clear, it still felt very uncomfortable indeed.

The finish:

Unbelievably John guided me around the 5k Poole Park circuit in under 33 minutes.

The finish was great as I knew where we were and could clearly hear the crowd gathered on the line cheering, with some patting us on the back. It took a while for my eyes to adjust on removing the blindfold, but luckily enough, just in time for us to cheer David and Julie across the finish line.

Seeing David and Julie safely crossing the finish line

I think John Baker and I fully understand the difficulties we face going forward to the next nine parkruns. There are seven that we have never been to. However, this first experience at Poole (when completed) was fantastic. The adrenaline and endorphins kicked in and to be fair, I was pretty pleased with myself.

Later in this blog series I will be discussing the importance to good mental health of running and teamwork. This is such a critical subject for everyone, but especially the blind and visually impaired.

At the finish

Next week, May 7, 2022, is Upton parkrun and another challenge. My brilliant guide John Baker has run there before, I have not. Please wish us luck and remember you can help our fundraising efforts by donating here

The 2022 Blindfold Challenge at 10 Dorset parkruns.

John Baker and I, supported by David Edwards and Julie Burden will this summer be raising funds (Please click here to donate) for The Dorset Blind Association in their 102nd year of supporting the blind and partially sighted community. John will be guiding me over 10 different parkrun courses in Dorset and Hampshire, but here is the twist…I will be blindfolded!

During practice runs, with blindfold in place, I am trying to experience what life is like for many without sight and contemplating how I can perform in races with sometimes over 500 runners, new venues (John and I have not run at seven of the parkruns before) and difficult terrain. It is a very scary experience, but also highly educational, putting my complete faith and trust in my guide.

Our story begins here:

April 30 – Poole (Which will also be my 50th parkrun)

May 07 – Upton House

May 14 – Bridport (Which will also be John’s 100th parkrun)

May 21 – Moors Valley Country Park

May 28 – New Forest Brockenhurst

June 04 – Blandford Forum

June 11 – Weymouth 

June 18 – Durlston Country Park Swanage

June 25 – Poundbury Dorchester

July 02 – Kings Park Bournemouth

#Weruntogether

David’s inspiring Marathon Day story in his very own words

David, John and Spencer proudly showing off their medals

Saturday 2nd October, 2021

One day to go until the London Marathon! Gloomy grey skies, unrelenting rain and howling winds. Not exactly the kind of weather to allay last minute nerves about the Big Day! I pictured our “Dream Team’s” well planned running route quickly degenerating into muddy towpaths, branch-strewn pavements and wind-swept, sandy promenades. “Has the Marathon ever been cancelled due to bad weather?” ventured my wife, with a decided lack of optimism. “I don’t think so”, I replied [feeling just a touch worried!]

Sunday 3rd October, 2021

Long awaited Virtual Marathon Day. Very breezy but wow! Blue skies and sunshine! The apprehension of the previous day melted away and fortified by a hearty bowl of porridge, I felt ready for anything.  I brushed away fleeting thoughts of what if I can’t do this, and tried to stay focused and positive. After all the ups and downs and stop/starts of previous months it seemed unreal that this day had finally arrived. It was humbling to think that my own individual running challenge was about to become part of something much bigger, an event in which thousands of people would run in London whilst thousands more would run simultaneous virtual London Marathons along chosen routes in other towns and cities. After a year and a half of the Coronavirus keeping everyone apart, the Marathon motto “We Run Together” couldn’t be more poignant. Thousands of runners, each with a different story, united in their sense of purpose. Perhaps determined to run in memory of a loved one, to support a good cause, to overcome personal challenges, or even to run for the sheer joy of running. The sense of togetherness in such an event can be totally inspiring and uplifting!

Along the paths at the start of the race

8.45 a.m. The Marathon clock was ticking! John, my Running Guide, had arrived and excitement was mounting. We assembled at what might be loosely described as our Start Line i.e. the path outside my front door. Despite the lack of grandeur it was really heartening to realize that a few kind friends and neighbours had gathered in the front garden to wave us off. John and I linked our wrists together with our trusty, bright orange tether, a simple aid that takes the notion of “We Run Together” to a whole new level! With adrenalin now pumping, John took one last look at his watch and on the dot of 9 o’clock we were off!! A cheer from our small group of well-wishers rang in our ears as we jogged out of the cul-de -sac. The adventure had begun !

It is difficult to describe the next few hours. In some ways they were exhilarating, in other ways they passed in a kind of blur. As expected we encountered mud, puddles and numerous obstacles along the way. I am in complete admiration of my Guide Runners, Cliffe, John and Stuart who have safely guided me with complete focus, concentration and dedication over many different kinds of terrain during months of training. I have trusted them all completely and know that it is no small undertaking to assume responsibility for a blind person’s safety, as well as their own, when  running together in partnership.

Six miles in and passing Bournemouth Airport

As we progressed along our route, the support we experienced was amazing. A Park Run friend ran with us for the first 5 miles or so and fellow guides, Cliffe and Stuart, joined us at different places en-route. John’s wife followed our progress brilliantly and kept us well-fuelled with drinks and energy snacks, while friends and family members gathered at designated spots to clap and cheer the Dynamic [or weary!] Duo as they passed by.

John’s wife and supporters at St Catherine’s Hill – 8 miles in

Spencer, my Guide Dog, unsure of what all the fuss was about, put in a couple of star appearances too, greeting us with his usual, enthusiastic, tail wagging  onslaught before we shot off into the distance again. Random car drivers tooted their horns in encouragement as they drove by and groups of strangers apparently waiting for other runners, generously applauded us as well. All in all, we were absolutely “buzzing”!

David’s wife, Spencer and supporters at The Littledown Centre – 10 miles in

I guess it wouldn’t be realistic to say it was all plain sailing, even the hardiest runners wouldn’t have enjoyed the heavy rain shower and cold wind that left us drenched, freezing and fervently hoping that the sun would reappear pretty quickly.

Wick Harbour Christchurch – 16 miles in

Luckily, it did! Running westward along the clifftop and promenade with that same cold wind in or faces also proved to be a bit of a challenge but the welcome landmark of Bournemouth Pier was looming ever closer.

Into the wind on Bournemouth Promenade – 22 miles in

The arrival of Cliffe and Stuart to run the final stretch with us was brilliant and really boosted our spirits! [My wife told me afterwards that the sight of the four of us finally coming into view, running all together, side by side, was a moving and inspirational moment]. For me, that final push to the Finishing Line by the pier was a bit of a surreal experience. It’s a bit tricky if you can’t even see the pier, let alone the finish tape! I was aware of a hubbub of noise and activity as we approached and knew that somewhere in the usual Bournemouth crowds some friendly faces would be waiting. Suddenly I heard a shout of excitement “They’re coming!!” and the voices of my grandchildren shouting with all their might “Come on Grandad, come on Grandad!”

The finish line at Bournemouth Pier

Overcome with relief and exhilaration I had absolutely no idea which way to go but John, Cliffe and Stuart gently steered me to the London Marathon Tape and I was through! We had finally done it!! It had taken 6 hours and 5 minutes to complete the 26.2 miles . After a moment of shared exhilaration  with family and friends my legs suddenly turned to jelly and I felt decidedly unsteady on my feet. Strange how legs can keep  you going until your brain tells you that they no longer need to!

So……Mission accomplished! I won’t be relegating my trainers to the depths of the wardrobe just yet but I don’t think Marathons will continue to be on my agenda!

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported the marathon effort and gave us “magic moments” along the actual route and “thank you” to every kind friend, family member or complete stranger who encouraged us over many months and helped us raise funds for the life changing Guide Dog organization.

It goes without saying that I could not have attempted or completed a run of any sort, let alone a marathon, without my inspirational Guides…Cliffe, John and Stuart. I have learned alot from them and gained three new friends. I would also like to thank kind people at the weekly Bournemouth Park Run who volunteer to run with me on Saturdays so I can continue running for fitness and pure enjoyment.

Team David

What more can I say as this Blog comes to an end [at last!] and normal life resumes?  Just one more thing – “Thank you Team Guide Dogs and thank you Spencer, my four-legged friend who has changed my life”………….We Walk Together!

David’s Big Day and Marathon Route…

Why not put your trainers on and come and join us!

Sunday October 3rd 2021 and David Edwards, VI runner extrordinaire, will be pounding the roads, paths and promenades around his Bournemouth home to raise money for The Guide Dogs for The Blind Association. John Baker will be the official guide for the 26.2 miles of the Virtual London Marathon, but mid week training partner Stuart Lindsey and myself (Cliffe Tribe) will be assisting at various points along the route. Please come along and join us if you can and bring drinks and snacks with you if possible. Here is the route and timings for the run. We all look forward to seeing you in just one week’s time.

Start from David’s house – 09:00

Stage 1 – River Stour / New Road / Parley Cross roads / Airport / Hurn roundabout / Blackwater junction / St Catherine’s Hill – 14.3km (9 miles)

Fuel stop 1 – St Catherines Hill – about 10:45

Stage 2 – St Catherine’s Hill / River Way / Iford Bridge / Castle Lane East / Littledown – 17.8km (11 miles)

Meeting point – Steps at entrance to Littledown Centre – about 11:15

Stage 3 – Littledown / Kings Park including circuit around cricket pitch / Parkrun start line – 21.1km (13 miles)

Meeting point and fuel stop 2 – halfway point – Parkrun start line – about 11:45

Stage 4 – Kings Park Parkrun circuit / Gloucester Road / Woodland Walk / Boscombe Overcliffe Drive heading east / Cafe Riva (Firshermans Walk) – 25.2 km (16 miles)

Meeting point – Cafe Riva (Firshermans Walk) – about 12:15/12:30

Stage 5 – Cafe Riva (Firshermans Walk) / Overcliffe Drive / Harbour Road / Broadway / Thornbury Road / Promenade heading west / bottom of Fisherman’s Walk zigzag – 33.1km (21 miles)

Meeting point and fuel stop – bottom of Fisherman’s Walk zigzag – about13:13/13:45

Stage 6 – bottom of Fisherman’s Walk zigzag / Boscombe Pier / Bournemouth Pier entrance – 37.3km (23 miles)

Meeting point, fuel stop and last leg for any runners joining us – Bournemouth Pier entrance – about 14:15/14:30

Stage 7 – Bournemouth pier entrance / promenade heading west for half of remaining distance (about 2km?), turn around and return to Bournemouth Pier entrance – 42.195km (26 miles 385 yards!)

Finish line – about 15:00 / 15:30

One week to go!

So here we are, with one week to go and I’ve done as much training as I could.

It was brilliant to do my very first half marathon with John last weekend. Training was VERY patchy due to the pandemic and in 2020, it seemed almost impossible to think that we could run the London marathon in 2021. Cliffe, Stewart and John have rallied round to give me as much training as possible in the past few months.

They all have different techniques. When stepping up curves, Cliffe says “1.2.3. Jump!” and then “1.2.3. Off!”, John says “3.2.1. On!” and “3.2.1. Off!” and Stewart is a mixture of both! However, I have had complete confidence in all three VI guides. We have done a lot of talking, we have had a few laughs together and a couple of near tumbles! But now I’m rearing to go!

Thanks to everyone who has donated already, by name or anomalously.

I am hoping my faithful, canine friend Spencer will be waiting for me at the finish line! He’ll be hoping we’ll be back in time for his tea!

I’m glad to be doing what I can for Guide Dogs, ultimately helping other people with visual impairment.

What more can I say? I started it so I’ll finish it (hopefully)!

The mid-week running guide:

Welcome to Stuart Lindsay

What type of running have you done already?

I am definitely what you would call a social runner. I began running in 2004 when I responded to a request from Guide Dogs for London Marathon runners. I have since run the London Marathon again, the Great South (four times), the Great North and the Great Manchester, all for Guide Dogs.  Plus 2 more Marathons, over 15 halves and lots of 10ks and 5ks.  My favourite race is the Great South; I love running through the Naval dockyard and old Portsmouth before finishing along the windy seafront in Southsea.

How long have you been a Volunteer for Guide Dogs?

I have sponsored the puppies for over 10 years, but only became a full volunteer around 2016 (although I  am not entirely sure of the date, my volunteering card says it expires in 2022). 

How did you become my midweek running Guide?

I have been looking to run as a Guide for many years. In lockdown I reached out to Guide Dogs to see if there was anyone who needed a Guide. I am a very consistent pace runner so felt sure I could help someone. I am also hoping to be trained as a MyGuide when allowed. 

What do you hope the benefits will be as a result of supporting me?

I hope to learn how to be a good Guide from David and Cliffe so I could help someone else. It is also a great midweek work out for me. 

School Sports 1958 (known as Selkirk Common Riding Sports

In July 1958, having just reached the age of 7, I ran in Selkirk Schools Sports which was held as part of the Common Riding celebrations. Little did I know, when I was sprinting towards the finish line, that when reaching 70, I would be the owner of a Guide Dog, Spencer, and would  be a aiming to run for Guide Dogs, in a  Virtual London Marathon.

Although my mother was a Londoner, London seemed very far away and I could not have imagined living anywhere but Selkirk! I did not do very well in primary school but I excelled in running.  At secondary school, I enjoyed rugby (in the second row) and cross-country running, up the hills and down again through wet, muddy paths and soggy fields.

When I was in the third year of secondary school, my younger brother was in his first year for our first cross- country run together. Thinking that I must be a better runner than he was, I suggested that I should run ahead and he should go at his own pace. At the end of the run, one of our teachers said “shame on you David, you let your younger brother beat you”. How could that have happened I asked myself and why did he not say hello when passing?   Maybe, I was looking the other way!

The next photo shows me in one of the Selkirk scout troupes when I enjoyed camping and taking part in the scouts County flag competition, which included walking and running around in the hillside as part of a team. Although I appear to be cooking, my ability to cook never improved ha, ha!

Later in 1981 when I was working in a children’s centre in Dumfries, Scotland, I felt that I needed to keep myself fit for running so that I could keep up with the teenagers in my care.  I could not do that now – being 40 years later! The running challenge currently feels immense but it is worth doing my best to benefit others experiencing visual impairment!

How Spencer and I were matched together:

David and Spencer at Bournemouth Beach

Several people have asked how such a good match was made between Spencer and me? Well, here goes!

In April 2013 further to applying for a Guide Dog, I had a Home Visit from a Guide Dog Mobility Trainer who was based in the Southampton Office.  He quickly made my wife Jo and I feel at ease.  While carrying out his assessment, which considered my height, weight and walking speed, he asked if I had sometimes mistaken trees for people?  I was surprised by this question as I had told no-one that I had said “hello” to several trees from time to time! (Could be worse – I recently spoke to a dog-waste bin secured to a post!) We all laughed! I guessed that having a Guide dog might not stop the odd habit of talking to a tree, but it would prevent me from walking into them.

The Trainer and I then walked to my grandchildren’s school, which would be one of the future routes for me and my Guide Dog, if I was to be given one. On the way back home, he attached a guide dog harness and lead to his right hand. I held them in my left hand and was then asked to give the Trainer instructions as if he was the Guide Dog. As he was much taller than me, it must have looked funny to the children and parents who were still lingering around at the end of the school day! I imagine that they looked at us in disbelief! At the end of this excursion the Trainer introduced us to a large black Labrador already matched to another person – my first close encounter with a Guide Dog, or in fact any dog, in our own home. At the time he seemed enormous as he sprawled across the lounge floor, but his lovely gentle nature encouraged and excited me as I looked ahead to the day when I might be matched with a dog of my own.

Two years later I received an invitation from the Southampton Office to meet some other applicants, staff and Guide Dogs in a local hotel. The staff were so understanding, kind and considerate, I soon felt at ease. They emphasised that there were more applicants than Guide Dogs available for matching with us and we were not to view the event as a Matching Day.  We were told about the basic dog commands and were then given some practice working with the young Guide Dogs available.

After lunch, one of the Mobility Trainers asked me if I would like to accompany her on a practice walk with one of her trainee dogs. This was my first introduction to a handsome young dog called Spencer! On our return I was shown how to groom Spencer in the correct manner and they also suggested I gently massage his legs. This was a really special moment between us and was the first time that I dared to hope Spencer would be matched to me. After a few days it was confirmed that Spencer and I would be a partnership subject to successfully completing further training in a residential setting and in my home area. I was delighted. The subsequent training was sometimes challenging and tiring but was the beginning of a new adventure and a re-claiming of some independence and confidence when out and about on my own. In a sense, training didn’t really end there as I feel I am still learning new things all the time,

Spencer was 20 months old when he joined our household, and it doesn’t seem possible that he has been with us for 6 years now. He looks at me quizzically when he sees me running on the spot or trying to skip, clearly unsure whether I have “lost the plot” or whether I am failing to include him in some new crazy game! He might feel a bit left out when I resume outdoor running practice with Cliffe, but I will whisper in his ear that it’s all for a good cause and leave him for a while to dream about cats or possibly his next delicious meal. If our running efforts go even a little way towards funding another special dog like him, the aches and pains will not have been in vain…

On October 3, 2021 I will be running the Virtual London Marathon with my Guide Cliffe. You can sponsor us as we raise money for Guide Dogs at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/DavidsGuide

A new day, a new dawn

St.David’s day, 2021. I guess that’s as good a day as any for this insignificant David to re-start his blog!

Is it really a whole year since the dreaded word “Coronovirus” reared its ugly head and life as we knew it ground to a halt? Sadly yes, but no one really needs reminding of the roller coaster ride we’ve had along the way. Everyone has a story to tell, of sadness or joy, strength or vulnerability, hope or despair, boredom or creativity. Our diaries and our lives might seem empty but our hearts are full of admiration and gratitude for inspirational and compassionate people and for the inventive and resourceful nature of our fellow human-beings.

So here we are again! Spring has arrived in all its glory and with it, new hope and promise. Vaccination versus Virus, Liberty versus Lockdown! My running kit hasn’t seen the light of day for a year, but I dare to hope that it might emerge from the wardrobe soon. The closest I’ve got to running is when hearing a passing jogger as we walk along with Spencer. “Jogger coming”, warns my wife, as he/she steams by, exhaling suspect vapours . As  I step back out of the way I hear the jogger’s feet pounding by and I feel wistful.  As we meander on with Spencer my wife describes the new delights of Spring, catkins, snowdrops and tiny violets. I share her pleasure, but in my minds eye I can still see the jogger and I wish that it was me. Daydreams are allowed sometimes I suppose!

Back to reality! My running shoes are ready and waiting but as yet have nowhere to go. Always ringing in my ears is that pesky phrase, “keep socially distanced. Stay 2 metres apart”. Totally impossible at the best of times for a visually impaired person but also very restrictive when reliant on others for physical support. My trusted, inspirational running guide, Cliffe, opened up a whole new world for me last year, but in order to run safely, I need to be in close proximity to him all the time. All eyes are now on the calendar and the lifting of restrictions! Cliffe is encouraging me to get my creaking limbs moving again in readiness for the resumption of training. My brain and body are protesting a bit and confidence flew out of the window when Covid stormed in, but when the time is right to start running, I want to seize the opportunity with both hands (and feet)!

Will I be fit enough to run a virtual marathon by October? That is the big question! I honestly don’t know, but with Cliffe’s help and inspiration, I do need to try and in order to finish what we started and to continue supporting Guide Dogs, the charity that changed my life by giving me my faithful canine friend, Spencer.

So watch this space and see what happens! If  I don’t manage to get a hair-cut soon I will be the old chap running along with hair flowing in the wind. Cliffe will be the fit, well-groomed one keeping me going!

To sponsor us in the Virtual London Marathon on October 3, 2021, please click here