ONE of Simon Wheatcroft’s biggest challenges as a blind runner is finding people to guide him for competitions.
Although Simon does most of his training near his Doncaster home, on paths he has learned off by heart, for competitions on unfamiliar terrain he needs fully-sighted athletes to guide and pace him.
“We aren’t usually actually connected,” he said.
“We just run shoulder-to-shoulder and communicate through words and the occasional touch.”
The guide runners take it in turn to accompany Simon on the long runs. On one run last year he had a team of 10 guides.
“I’ve been really lucky to find a few people who share the same passion for long-distance running.
“You form quite a bond on those long runs - you need someone who will tell you to keep going, even when you say you can’t.
“On one run last year I was in the most pain I had ever been in after 50 miles - there was no way I could keep going.
“But I managed to keep running for another 33 miles until I collapsed. Seeing how far I can push myself, how far I really can go, is really interesting to me.”
Simon is running 53.4 miles through Sheffield on Sunday, May 27.
He will start with the runners of the Sheffield Half Marathon, but keep going for another marathon, then another half marathon after that, running laps of Endcliffe Park.
He came up with the idea for the ‘Marathon Sandwich’ to raise funds and awareness for Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind.
Ashley Charlesworth, who runs Endcliffe Park Café, is supporting the event and will be selling Simon’s favourite ‘NUFF chicken soup’ with proceeds going to the charity.
Sheffield firm Roses Bakers are also creating a special marathon sandwich to sell in the run-up to the event with a percentage of sales going to SRSB.
For information about Simon, or to donate to Royal Society for the Blind, log-on to www.marathonsandwich.com