Keen to get into blind running but not quite sure where to start? With the help of British Blind Sport we have taken the opportunity to share Dave’s personal story of how he got into running and where he is now.
Dave Williams was born with Leber Congenital Amaurosis, which causes sight loss at birth. Never the most active of people, Dave tried to take up cycling to set a better example for his 10 year old son, Arlo, and to even out some of his unhealthy life choices (namely, a love of pork scratchings).
Unfortunately, Dave found it more and more difficult to find a pilot for his tandem cycling. It was at this point that Dave stumbled across the Find A Guide database; a national guide runner database delivered by England Athletics in partnership with British Blind Sport into which visually impaired runners can enter their post code and find guide runners in their local area.
Dave ended up connecting with Steve, a guide runner who lived 3 miles away. Ever the cynic, Dave didn’t believe Steve was real – a guide runner 3 miles away in the rural countryside of Worcestershire was too convenient to be true.
Dave has generally always preferred being independent, walking on his own without the use of a cane or a guide, so to walk holding Steve’s elbow was the first step out of his comfort zone. The second was the running. Whilst they began at a steady walk, 100m in Steve said “Are you ready?” and then began to run. 200m later, they were walking again and Dave was gasping for breath! But they carried on, walking and running and walking and running. And the end of the route, Dave apologised for wasting Steve’s time. Steve said he would see him again next Friday.
At the end of August, Dave continuously ran 1 mile for the first time. This seemed to be some sort of pivotal point; Dave realised if he could run 1 mile, then he could probably run 2, and then 3 and then who knows how many more! It was then that Steve recognised Dave needed to be running more than once a week and put him in touch with the Black Pear Joggers, where he met a guide runner called Bex. Bex has dyspraxia and so Dave thought, in theory, that this partnership would never work. Dave was proved wrong. He and Bex gelled immediately and have ran over 1000 miles together so far this year.
A few months later, somewhat accidentally, Dave ended up entering the ballot for the New York City marathon 2019…and to his shock and horror, he ended up getting offered a place!
In his own words it all started “with a bit of huffing and puffing” and became “one hell of a journey”.