We have a fantastic run report this week from Elaine Trim who will tell you below why she is a VIP. Before you reads on, if you accidentally went home with barcode token number 260, please could you return it as we will need it for another runner! Now, on with the run report...
Today’s parkrun was a beautiful morning; bright, sunny and very well attended with over 300 runners. I am writing this run report today from a VIP’s perspective. No, I am not famous or important (well, I don’t think I am anyway). I am a Visually Impaired Person.
I started running with a Rookie Runners course in November and graduated at Hogmoor on 22nd December 2018. Being a slightly undulating course (I have been reassured that they are not hills!) with different terrains, I was able to do a walk-round the course before Graduation Day with Fran, my coach and Colin, one of the fantastic Hogmoor Volunteers. They both pointed out different ‘undulations’ and where there are brambles, tree roots, low branches and puddles alongside the path. This ensured I had a very enjoyable Graduation Run with no real concerns about tripping over or not seeing things.
My Vision impairment is basically the same as you looking through a toilet roll, I have reasonably good central vision but absolutely no peripheral vision so cannot see up, down, left or right so will not see buggies, dogs, children and anyone at my side. So if I tread on your little darlings, it’s not because I don’t like children or dogs, it’s because I didn’t see them! I apologise in advance, if I should ever do this.
Since my Graduation parkrun, I have now been to 3 different parkruns and always had a Guide Runner with me; some have done Guide Running courses, others haven’t but they have all done a great job at helping me navigate the very busy start where Runners dart in and out of my field of vision. If I were to do this on my own, I would be tripping over dogs, buggies, feet and bumping into everyone and would most certainly be very anxious. Once the field thins out a little, I can relax and get into my stride. I wear a Visually Impaired vest and I also have a Guide vest for my Guide runner to wear, we run tethered so my Guide can pull me if needed and it also ensures no-one runs between us and separates us. My Guide Runner will tell me when we are about to turn a tight bend, go up or down any steps or bumps, if there are dogs nearby, bushes or any other obstacles. It can be difficult occasionally to overtake others on narrow sections as we have to overtake as a pair but we will usually shout out ‘overtaking on your left/right’, I think this is good running etiquette for everyone to remember whether someone has a visual impairment or not.
Of the three parkruns I have been to, Hogmoor is certainly the most challenging as a VIP with the different levels of sand, a few narrow sections, undulations, large puddles (after wet weather) and spiky bushes to watch out for alongside the track - but so far, it is my favourite as it is beautiful with interesting views and an amazing group of Volunteers who encourage us with pom-poms, loud cheering, clapping and lots of jumping and dancing; so a huge THANK YOU to all the volunteers who turn up week after week, regardless of the weather. I must also include all Guide Runners in the BIG THANK YOU as well as they are also Volunteers and without them, I would not be able to run as part of the parkrun community.
parkrun has been great for me as I feel included and am able to do an activity which keeps me fit and I have made some great friends too. Everyone is always so encouraging and supportive, whatever your ability and I am never made to feel different.