Blind man’s New York Marathon wins
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.
Achilles NZ ambassador Rachel Grunwell with blind runner Tamati Pearse.