Blind man’s New York Marathon wins

North Shore Times - - SALES/SERVICE - FELIC­ITY REID

When Birken­head blind run­ner Ta¯mati Pearse re­turned to the streets of New York this month he proved how far he has come in the past cou­ple of years.

A stop for waf­fles dur­ing his first New York Marathon in 2015 very nearly de­railed the en­tire run. Pearse re­calls the 42-kilo­me­tre run as be­ing a ‘‘night­mare’’ af­ter the too-early sugar stop.

Even though he was faint­ing, walk­ing and lean­ing on his guide run­ners, he crossed the fin­ish line.

‘‘I def­i­nitely wanted to do a sec­ond [New York Marathon] to fin­ish in a pos­i­tive way com­pared to the first one,’’ Pearse said.

Pearse’s guide for the 2017 event on Novem­ber 5 was Achilles New Zea­land am­bas­sador Rachel Grun­well.

‘‘There is 52,000 peo­ple on the course, 3 mil­lion spec­ta­tors, so it’s like run­ning through a rock con­cert,’’ ex­pe­ri­enced marathon run­ner Grun­well said.

But, Pearse was not daunted. ‘‘I had a blast out there this time,’’ he said.

Grun­well is proud of the trans­for­ma­tion her run­ning buddy has un­der­gone in the past cou­ple of years. ‘‘Ta¯mati is in­cred­i­bly brave to do what he does. It is a won­der­ful in­spi­ra­tion,’’ Grun­well said. ‘‘He ran con­fi­dently the whole way, he ran strong at the end. He is just an in­cred­i­ble run­ner now. He has built strength and con­fi­dence and fit­ness and health. He has re­ally gone from strength to strength in this jour­ney. A lot of able-bod­ied peo­ple would find it re­ally dif­fi­cult to take on a big chal­lenge like the marathon, so imag­ine not be­ing able to see. I think he proves no bar­rier is too great to achieve dreams.’’

The Achilles Foun­da­tion is an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion which helps dis­abled ath­letes par­tic­i­pate in events along­side able-bod­ied ath­letes, and Grun­well said Pearse’s in­volve­ment with the or­gan­i­sa­tion over the past few years has had a wide-rang­ing im­pact on his life. ‘‘Through sport, they learn goal-set­ting tools and it does fil­ter into their ev­ery­day life,’’ she said.

Pearse got his first job this year. The 23-year-old is a guide waiter at Ry­dges ho­tel’s Din­ing in the Dark ex­pe­ri­ence. This em­ploy­ment has mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits for Pearse and has helped build his con­fi­dence and so­cial life. Now with two New York Marathons be­hind him, Pearse said he plans to con­tinue run­ning for the rest of his life.

FELIC­ITY REID/ STUFF

Achilles NZ am­bas­sador Rachel Grun­well with blind run­ner Ta­mati Pearse.

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