Taking on my first half marathon aged 50

Graham findlay  web

Charity chief executive Graham Findlay, 50, is registered blind, a regular runner, and will take on the Great Aberdeen Run with colleagues from North East Sensory Services (NESS). Graham will run with Diana Daneels, young people’s sensory services coordinator for NESS, who will act as a running guide.

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22nd August 2017 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

I am looking forward to taking part in the first half marathon in Aberdeen. I work in the city and know the streets fairly well, so I am thrilled that an event of this size is taking place.

Along with Neil Skene, who is blind, and Leona Glennie, who is deaf blind, we will have a team of guide runners, who will take turns in supporting us. Mostly the guides communicate with us verbally and physically, indicating twists and turns in the road, as well as letting us know if there are people or obstacles ahead. 

Diana and I have been out training a lot over the past month. It is things like steps up or down, kerbs and gradients that present a problem. I have got 10% vision, so if I have to look down a bit I can’t see anything.

We are attached at the wrist by a strap or a piece of rope, up to about 500cm. The guide helps determine where to run in the pack – we need a bit more space than a single runner – it’s a bit like adjusting from riding a bike to driving a bus. The guide will let me know what’s ahead – for example “curb up” or “cobbled street”, or even “puddle”. 

It is things like steps up or down, kerbs and gradients that present a problem

Most races allow visually impaired and deaf runners to go off first – to give us a head start – and to give those who are looking for a sprint start plenty of space to see where we are.

I train with my sons and good friends, as well as running in the gym at the NESS resource centre in John Street, Aberdeen when the weather isn’t so good.

We have a great running group here at NESS, and there are lots of us taking part, not just in the half marathon but also in the 10k, so we will be well represented. Give us a cheer if you see us – we will all need all the encouragement we can get.

The event should be great. There are eight different bands playing along the route, and you can hear them when you are approaching, when you pass them and then move onto the next band. It is a great marker if you are visually impaired.

Luckily, as NESS is a partner of the run, we have a marquee in the event village, and we will have a masseur from Helping Hands Therapy available for NESS runners to soothe our aching limbs!

When you get to the end you can enjoy it. You hear from all sorts of people that run that the first four or five kilometres is the hardest. That is when you get your aches and your pains, and have to get your breathing right. You can settle into it after that.