Blind runner completes 890-km Bruce Trail
Published Friday, August 29, 2014 4:20PM EDT
An Ontario runner who has only 8 per cent vision says the key to successfully completing a nearly 900-kilometre trail run is to “let go and trust.”
Rhonda-Marie Avery from Barrie, Ont., ran the 890-km Bruce Trail earlier this month. Although she has been running for about six years, she wanted to complete a more arduous trail run to show that people with disabilities can tackle such challenges.
“I think that we definitely need to break though limits and boundaries, and this was just my way of trying to get people to be aware that we’re out there as a disabled population,” Avery told CTV News Channel on Friday afternoon.
“Trying to participate and sometimes making things accessible is not the same as helping us to take part.”
Her longest run before the Bruce had been about 160 km, “which was an adventure in itself,” she said.
Preparing for nearly 900 km over sometimes dangerous terrain took her two years, particularly “lots and lots of back-to-back runs just to try to make sure you are able to get up and move when you’re tired and stay focused.”
She had 50 guide runners who rotated throughout the run. The key to completing the runs, she said is listening to their advice.
“If you get into a rhythm where you’re actually moving forward at a good speed, you have to trust them,” Avery said. “You have to let go of everything and when they say ‘jump’ you’d better jump, because some of those crevices went down really far.
“Sometimes I had no idea what I was jumping over. You just have to let go and trust.”
Avery was born without cones, one of two types of photoreceptor cells in the retina. She essentially has no daytime vision.
“On the trail when the sun sort of speckles through the trees and it plays on the ground, that’s when my vision is worse,” Avery said. “Because I can’t really tell what is level, I have no depth perception and I have to rely on everyone else to tell me what’s going on.
“I see far better in the dark.”
Up next for Avery is a 100-mile race in the spring, and “I’m hoping that things will progress from there and we’ll come up with some new adventures.”
But first up, further recovery from her Bruce Trail run.
“I’m really hoping to take up endurance napping for another week.”