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Running as a blind runner with Mark Ellis

If you are looking for an inspirational story, our ambassador, Mark Ellis, provides one! 

Blind from birth, Mark discovered a love of running when his school took him to the athletics stadium in Hillsborough; a coach experienced in working with blind children inspired him to start 100m sprints.  

As he approached 13 years of age, he started racing 200m. There were no race guides for this distance, instead a coach would stand at the finish line and shout and clap to help the children run the right way. Mark did well at this distance but was eager to run further. 

Since those early running days, Mark has achieved incredible things in his running including a couple of virtual ultra challenges during the pandemic. Just last weekend he ran the 24 hour Equinox race, running an amazing 49.6 miles, with the aid of several guide runners through the event.

Mark, what you have achieved has been amazing, as a blind runner, how do you manage to train regularly?

I do most of my training on a treadmill. Where some people find a treadmill curtails their freedom, for me it gives me freedom. Finding a running guide is difficult and you certainly couldn’t train regularly. With the treadmill I can run whenever I want, as far as I want, I don’t have to rely on anybody and it gives me freedom.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve done on the treadmill?

During lockdown I took part in the Rat Race Challenge. I had to run as many laps as I could over the weekend;  I was given rubber bands to help keep track of  my laps.

What is the most challenging aspect about being a blind runner?

Finding a guide so that I can compete in races is really tricky. In fact I was supposed to be running the London Marathon this year but was unable to find a guide, so I am going to run it virtually on my treadmill. I’m aiming to do it in four hours.

WHAT IS YOUR NEXT GOAL AFTER LONDON MARATHON?

Well, maybe after a bit of a rest, it’ll be a case of doing a few shorter events such as 10 K races. I also attend my local park run every week which is in Boston Lincolnshire.

I am looking forward to using the Kinni app; with set workouts and the ability to control my treadmill, along with the voice commands, it will transform how I structure my workouts on the treadmill.

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