Blind Man Will Make History This Weekend
I've never liked to run. Even when I was in the United States Air Force, I only ran because I had to. So the thoughts of running a marathon is something I can't even imagine doing...yet enjoying! But my hat's off to those who run for the sheer joy of it.
And particularly to someone who runs a marathon with impaired vision.
Of course it isn't unheard of a blind person taking part in a long-distance race. But it would be the first time they've done it on their own. Simon Wheatcroft had a degenerative eye disease, and went blind when he was a teenager. For the past several years, he's been working with IBM on a navigation device to help guide him while he runs. And he's going to use it this weekend to run the New York City Marathon.
The device is called a Wayband. It goes on his wrist and uses GPS to guide him through the course. Instead of audio alerts, it vibrates. Wheatcroft has used it before…in fact, he used it to run part of an ultra-marathon in Africa last year, but there were a lot of long straightaways that time. New York should be harder, especially if his GPS drops out because of all the tall buildings.
It sounds like it's partly a marketing stunt, but it's also a proof of concept thing. If he can run a marathon, other people should feel confident using it to walk around town. You can't buy one yet, but he says they'll eventually cost about $300.