Doncaster blind runner’s toughest task

Charity runner Simon Wheatcroft, of Rossington.
Charity runner Simon Wheatcroft, of Rossington.
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Blind long distance runner Simon Wheatcroft from Doncaster is all set to take on one of his toughest challenges yet.

The 32-year-old from Rossington is gearing up for a nine-day, 230-mile, run from Boston to New York. And, when he completes that, he plans to run the New York marathon.

To make the task even tougher than it already is, he will be relying on social media not only to find sighted runners to help guide him but also to find him a bed for the night.

He admits that the idea of relying on strangers to help out might sound ‘ludicrous’ but he has every faith people will come forward.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

“The point of these adventures is that they are supposed to be hard and difficult. There will come a time on the run when I will start to think I can’t carry on - that is the opportunity to stand back up and keep going and prove it’s possible. I’m looking forward to the fact it’s difficult - it’s an opportunity to push on and keep going.”

Simon says it is a test not only of his mental and physical toughness but a test of the generosity of Americans and people he has yet to meet.

Mr Wheatcroft, who went blind at 17 as a result of a degenerative eye disease, often runs solo but only after he has memorised the route using smartphone app RunKeeper, which helps him with pace and distance.

For the Boston run he will be relying on volunteer guides and his friend and fellow runner Neil Bacon.

He said: “I will be using social media to find guide runners, who will run anything from one mile to 10 miles with me. I will aim to run 25 miles a day.”

The route he is taking from Boston is on minor roads and tracks and is well used by cyclists and runners.

“It’s a renowned way to cycle from Boston to New York, to make it as safe as possible. I could have gone for a shorter route but it would have been far more dangerous,” he added.

As well as raising money for charity, he is also raising the profile of what can be achieved using social media. The website Airbnb, which allows people to rent out lodging, is sponsoring him.