Blind veterans’ successes at London Marathon 2018

24 April 2018 10:00

Twenty people ran in support of Blind Veterans UK at this year's London Marathon, including five blind veterans from across the country, who ran with guide runners.

Running the London Marathon is a challenge met by thousands of people each year. But, what if you cannot see where you are going, let alone the distinctive landmarks that spur runners on throughout the 26.2 mile course?

This year, 20 people ran in support of Blind Veterans UK. This included five blind veterans from across the country, who ran with guide runners. They are: Darren, Andy, Alan, Mark, and Charlie. We are pleased to report that all runners crossed the finish line! 

One of the guided runners, Charlie, travelled from Cwmbran and undertook his fifth London Marathon. He is registered severely sight impaired due to glaucoma, which means that he has no vision in his left eye and only five per cent in his right.

He achieves his fitness ambitions with the help of a guide runner, usually a friend from the Army. However, this year, his friend was unable to run with him, and Blind Veterans UK helped Charlie to find someone able to go the distance. Claire, a volunteer, offered to guide Charlie around the capital’s streets. It is this ‘above and beyond’ attitude for which Charlie is most grateful.

Before the race, Charlie said: “The organisation has gone out of its way to get someone to run the Marathon with me. Without them, I couldn’t do this. Without my guide giving up their Sunday, I couldn’t do it. And, without fundraising for the charity, none of this support would be happening.”


Blind veteran Charlie, left, and guide runner Claire, right, stand holding their finishers' medals. There is a large crowd of people walking behind them.
Blind veteran Charlie, left, and his volunteer guide runner Claire stand holding their finishers' medals.

Our 20 runners have fundraised to help other ex-Service men and women receive the same support they have received from us. Charlie has learnt skills he thought were lost due to losing his sight, and has gained a qualification in massage therapy, which has given him a renewed purpose to work.

After crossing the finish line, Charlie said: “It’s been a lovely day, with a brilliant atmosphere! All the guides did excellently; without them we couldn’t have done it. Due to the heat, it’s been one of the hardest marathons so far. I had to walk the last couple of miles, and I couldn’t wait to cross that line. I am so glad I did it!”

On behalf of the runners with guides, Charlie gave praise to those who helped them in the marathon. He acknowledged the extra responsibilities of a guide runner, understanding that they not only had to look after themselves during the race but also concentrate on their surroundings for the person they were guiding. During the hottest London Marathon to date, Charlie stated that their army training gave them the experience to remain properly hydrated and served as a reminder to not overdo it in the conditions. “There’s always next year,” he said.

Charlie clocked a time of four hours and 40 minutes, just outside of his usual average that lies between four hours and four and a half hours. “Alan ran it in three hours and 33 minutes,” Charlie said. “He’s probably the best runner in Blind Veterans UK. I think he is looking to do it under three and a half hours next time, and he probably will!”

At the front of the photo stands Nick Caplin, CEO, holding two branded cheer sticks in a X sign. In the background are people waiting for runners, leafy trees, and a large balloon arch in the red and white colours of the Virgin Money London Marathon.
Nick Caplin, Blind Veterans UK's CEO, stands holding two branded cheer sticks in anticipation of our runners coming past.

Among the supporters cheering them on was our Chief Executive, Nick Caplin CB. Staff and volunteers showed their support from their base along the route at Mudchute DLR, with flags, banners, clackers and cheer sticks at the ready to encourage each of our runners.

A huge well done and thank you goes to each and every person who ran this year’s London Marathon in aid of Blind Veterans UK!