I didn’t let my disability stop me running the marathon
We caught up with Paige to hear about her experience training for the London Marathon last year. She has Usher syndrome and wasn’t always sure of the path ahead. But with support from friends, family and a mystery marathon companion, she smashed it.
The last few years have been crazy, a marathon hardly stood out as a bigger challenge than anything else! It’s only been, what, just over five years since I was diagnosed with Usher syndrome type 3 – I was only 17.
It’s very rare and usually the symptoms become worse when you’re a teenager, which is what happened to me. I’ve been deaf since I was small and I went to a specialist school, then one day I realised my vision wasn’t the same as everyone else’s. That was definitely a shock. I didn’t know other people weren’t dealing with blurriness and no peripheral vision, just me.
Getting into marathon shape
I’ve never let being deafblind get in my way. I can’t see very well at night, but does that stop me going out partying with friends? No! So once I found running, I didn’t think my Usher should stand in the way of a marathon.
Obviously, I had to make sure that my training suited my disability. Talking training apps like Couch to 5K were good but not totally accessible. Then, because I don’t have that peripheral vision, things like sticks in the road and cars coming behind me are more of a challenge. I needed to work harder than other people to keep safe.
I don’t think people realise the extra effort deafblind people put into every day. Sense understands that and that’s one of the reasons I was so excited to run the London Marathon for them!
It’s also so rare for people to know about Usher syndrome. Sense was great at helping me get a platform to raise awareness of it – I think I’ve doubled the number of people who know about Usher now!
Overcoming challenges thanks to special strangers
I remember being worried about the day. It’s so crowded and loud, I knew I might find it disorientating. And, yeah, it was hard. Especially at the beginning when everyone is heading to the starting line. I got myself worked up because I didn’t have anyone with me – I felt lost.
Fortunately, my mum battled through security to get to me! She got me talking to the woman next to me, who was also running alone. It turned out she was running for Blind Veterans UK, and she understood the anxiety I experiencing as a deafblind runner. That woman ran with me for almost half the marathon. I was so grateful to have my fears be really understood and not to be alone.
I was gutted not to get her name or to be able to say thank you! I’d love to know who she was so could reach out.
Thanks to all the amazing people there supporting me, I made it to the finish line!
Would I recommend running the marathon? 100%! The atmosphere on the day is brilliant – everyone’s cheering you on, I get goosebumps just remembering it.
For anyone thinking of running the marathon with a disability, you can do this. I tell people “I’m the deafblind girl who dodged PE for years – and now I’ve run 26 miles!”
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