Back in September 2015 Emma Goldberg was swimming at the Regional Swimming and fitness centre in Peterborough at the same time as the PAB swimming group. After chatting to the swimmers, Emma felt inspired to fundraise for PAB (and Guidedogs) and set about training for the Great Eastern Run – Blindfolded!!
If like us you think this was an AMAZING achievement, you can still sponsor Emma by clicking here which will take you to her Virgin Money Giving page. Emma has also written an extensive blog about her experience which is summarised below. If you would like to read the full story, you can click here to visit her blog. There are also some more pictures of Emma’s Great Eastern Run by clicking here to visit our gallery page. I’m sure you will all join us in saying say a huge THANK YOU for fundraising on our behalf and for highlighting some of the difficulties faced by our members through your blog. Congratulations on completing the run – we are really proud of you!
“The first time I put on the blindfold and practiced with my sighted guide Summer, I said “I don’t think I can do this” within 20 paces. It’s confusing, and frightening… not knowing what is coming next. We’d both been thinking of what sort of things she needed to tell me about – the rises and bumps in the path, rough ground, any actual obstacles, what was happening around. I wasn’t prepared for how disorientating I would find it. I felt as if I were arcing drunkenly in circles. There was no semblance of going in a straight line and I kept wanting to put my arms in front of my face to protect myself. We crossed roads, and practiced stepping on and off curbs. The pavements were incredibly cumbersome, with driveways going up and down, and tree roots cracking through them.
I slept badly the night before, worrying about colliding into other runners (or worse that someone might try to barge between Summer and I). My friend Chris was also running with us to carry the collection bucket to raise donations along the way. Our first mishap happened quite early on when I kicked one of the barriers. Nothing serious, and we soon had ourselves back on track. Summer had been trying to think of the best place to get me to come down a cambered curb, and hadn’t seen my proximity to the barrier. She was full of apology, but really it underlined to me that the reality of concentrating on someone else’s movements over a prolonged period of time was going to be really difficult. Although what I was doing was definitely scary, she had the hardest job, with greatest responsibility, and I started worrying prematurely over what would happen towards the end of the race, as we both got more tired.
Steering was generally successful, but now and again, I would really feel lost. I’d lose balance, and somehow not be able to regain it. Sometimes I panicked, especially if there were lots of noises, and Summer would let me know that it was all fine. I jostled into Summer often and she said each time that it was OK, and that she didn’t mind. I hit Chris a staggering number of times as well, given that he wasn’t tied to me, and sort of knew where I was.
Running through dappled shade I think was the hardest thing, and constantly made me feel like something was going to hit me in the face. Where the route changed this way then that way, was also especially hard to regain my composure.
The crowds were amazing, as they always are on this course, and cheered us on without fail. If I sensed people around, I’d try to give them a thumbs-up or a wave, or raise my hand in the air, which unfailingly got them to cheer and clap. We finally made it round the last few streets, using up Summer’s final remnants of energy, and could hear the crowds ahead of us. We managed to pick up our pace satisfactorily and did ourselves proud over the finish line.
And it was so very good to be able to take off the blindfold; although the bright light was disorientating, and my eyes took a while to readjust. I was very grateful that I could do so.
I found the day to be full of overwhelming support; my immense gratitude to Summer for her absolute first class efforts in guiding me I find actually quite humbling. The more we practiced, the more I realised how much I’d asked of her. I knew from the outset that she was the only person I could have trusted so entirely, but it was a hard task for her. All the people who we interacted with on the way, and all our wonderful friends who sponsored us. And I do feel proud: I genuinely wanted to stop people all the way home and tell them “I’ve just run a half marathon blindfolded. But I hope that the efforts and generous contributions of many people will help people in this community who have to put up with their lack of vision on a more permanent basis”