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Local support for blind ultra-marathon runner

Local support for blind ultra-marathon runner
Gloucestershire based recruitment company, Omega Resource Group, are proud to be supporting blind runner Simon Wheatcroft with his epic ultra-marathon run on 24th June 2011 - a 100 mile race through the idyllic countryside of the Cotswolds. Simon, now 29, has been registered blind for over a decade through the degenerative eye disorder Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), lives in a small village called Rossington near Doncaster in the UK with his wife and son Grayson. This is where Simon has been in training for the up and coming Cotswold ultra race 100 - a 100 mile road marathon event following a circular route from Stratford-upon-Avon and passing famous landmarks in the Cotswolds, with contestants running non-stop for 24 hours.
The degenerative eye disease that Simon has been diagnosed with has no cure and affects vision in a number of ways such as losing peripheral vision, central vision, colour definition, night blindness, light perception and eventually leads to total blindness.
The Cotswolds ultra race is a landmark test for anybody's running career, and being able to cover 100 miles on the road in less than a day will most certainly be a challenge for all those taking part however being blind introduces a number of different challenges to Simons training. Despite mobility issues, he has been training alone outdoors and was able to achieve this through utilising RunKeeper, a GPS enabled running application for smart phones. 
Audio cues have allowed Simon to memorise a 4-mile route that he repeats in order to achieve his daily targets.  Simon explains further, The pairing of audio cues with my memorised route allows me to feel where I am, for example by the camber of the curb underfoot I am able to recognise my relative position on the pavement  
 
Other cues, Simon continues such as a change in surface also indicate my location, a change to grass or pavement surface would mean I have veered slightly off course and I am able to make slight adjustments to my footfall to stay in position.  This does introduce a number of other issues, as I have to assume the route stays constant.  Thanks to litter, random objects and my mind wandering I often trip or run into posts. 
 
On the day of the race, local company Omega Resource Group will be providing Simon with one pace runner and two support runners account and business development manager James Marklove, and group director James Strickland will be support runners, whom are invaluable as an extra pair of eyes as well as there for motivation and offering support to Simon and other runners at the event. Account manager Graham Hoare will be a much needed pace runner, taking on 10 mile sections of the route, and responsible for keeping a set pace range, monitoring and supporting Simon along the way. All three will also be asked to do a short "run in" section with Simon as a big team to give the most support possible in the final few miles and when crossing the finish line.
Gloucestershires car and van hire specialist, 1st Call Auto Rental, have also kindly offered to supply a minibus for the day, and Omega will be arranging and supplying the funds for fuel, insurance and a driver for the event. Omega will also be making a separate donation to Simon's running kit fund, and to the charity Sightsavers whom Simon has chosen to support and raise funds for both before and during the event. Sightsavers is an international charity which works with partners to eliminate avoidable blindness and promote equality of opportunity for disabled people in the developing world.
 
Simon will be broadcasting the race live, so that anyone will be able to watch real time progress of his run. He said, I chose to run the ultra distance to truly challenge myself. I knew mentally I could achieve a marathon distance so I set myself a greater challenge. I wanted to push myself mentally and physically and thought ultra distance would suit that nicely.
 
While I never set out with the initial thought of inspiring others as time has passed I have been contacted by a number of blind people who found my story inspirational. I hope now I can continue to inspire others to adapt and achieve any goal they believe they can.
 
Simons progress in the Cotswolds can be followed live at www.blind100.com and you can find out more about Simon and his life at www.andadapt.com. You can also sponsor Simon by visiting www.justgiving.com/andadapt

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