Saturday, May 18, 2024

Not My Race Race Report

I run with Achilles International, guiding weekly runs and the occasional race for athletes with physical or cognitive challenges. For our chapter, we are doing mostly shorter runs and road races. The bigger city chapters, particularly on the East Coast, have athletes who are doing a lot of longer races but we are who we are. I love it, and its one of my favorite parts of my week. 

Several weeks ago, we got a call from an athlete from Texas who has a visual impairment. He asked if we might be willing to find some guides for him for a 55 mile trail race he registered for. Eight of us pulled together and said we'd figure it out. 

Fortunately, the heads of our chapters are ultra runners, because we quickly realized the course started in Manitou Springs, ran through Garden of the Gods, up Rampart Range Road to Rampart Reservoir, around the reservoir, and back down... and the gate to the Road was still locked, so there was no switching out runners for 18 mile stretches of road. The pros took those, and a partner and I were assigned half of the reservoir. 

We met up with Christian, a 29-year-old former collegiate swimmer running his first race of this distance, on Friday night. Christian has total blindness in one eye, and about 20% vision in the other. He told us this means he can see shapes from the one eye, but not details, and has no depth perception. He's also built like a swimmer and is about 6'3". That made me a little nervous as that meant I would be taking about twice as many strides as he would be in order to stay with him. Eek.