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Runner has marathon task ahead

5:00AM Thursday October 25, 2007 By Michelle Duff

Falling off kerbs, hitting walls and branches, and broken fingers are not hazards many people have to deal with on a daily basis.

But North Shore man Mike Lloyd has to contend with them every day as he jogs around Auckland's streets in training for the New York Marathon next month.

No, he's not just extraordinarily clumsy - Mr Lloyd is blind.

The 38-year-old technology teacher used to be able to see, until a condition known as rininus pigmentosa caused him to almost completely lose his sight 10 years ago. "It's like seeing through a narrow field of blurred murk," Mr Lloyd explains.

An avid runner before he became blind, Mr Lloyd missed the sense of freedom and fitness he gained through running.

Then, two years ago, Mr Lloyd joined the local Achilles track club, which caters for athletes with disabilities.

He began training with the aim of attending the New York Marathon - a "huge challenge to jump at", he said.

His brother Gavin agreed to act as his guide, by shouting instructions and tugging Mr Lloyd in the right direction with a rope attached to both their wrists.

"You can't limit your activities based on the idea that it is not achievable," Mr Lloyd said. "Being blind might be a hurdle to get over, but it is definitely not a barrier."

As for the marathon, he is very clear about what part he is looking forward to most: "The beer at the end."

Mr Lloyd's quest has been made easier by support from the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. The foundation is holding an appeal for Blind Week this week, and collectors will be seeking contributions around town from Friday.

Link to NZ Herald Site

The following quotation from this article made the NZ Herald Top Ten Quotes of the week published on 27 October 2007.
"Being blind might be a hurdle to get over, but it is definitely not a barrier."