The British Blind Sports Have A Go Day

Today, there was a have a go taster day ran by

British Blind Sport

Which was the first of its’ kind here in Northern Ireland. It was held in conjunction with Antrim and Newtownabbey counscel, Guide dogs and Angel Eyes NI.

The day started at

Around half 10 with regestration and a talk about the day, before we all got started in our different groups. We all wore coloured wrist bands so that we knew what group we were in.

It was Goalball first, followed by tandum cycling. The cycling was done indoors which was a bit strange. We then went outside for some football, followed by lunch.

After lunch, it was time for some tennis. We then did guide running, followed finally by pilates. I’d never done pilates before, so this was a new experience. A lot of it was like yoga though but you had to hold the poses for much longer than you would in yoga.

It was a brilliant day and it was good to see so many people attending. Thanks to all the volunteers, coaches and clubs and of course to British blind sport. I am looking forward to more days like this.

The Belfast Marathon 9 Mile Walk Four years On

Today I completed the 9 mile walk as part of the Belfast Marathon.

The last time i completed the 8 mile walk, as it was then, it was back in 2015. After doing that, i wasn’t sure if i would do it again as i’d already done it twice so figured that there would be nothing knew if i did it again. When i heard though that the route was changing and was going to be starting on a Sunday, i thought i would give it a go. I didn’t support any charity this time around, although there were some great charities who were the official charity partners for the marathon this year. After floating the idea around a bit, i found a guide and signed up. I was amazed at how many people had offered to walk with me so i had to make the hard decision of choosing who would guide me. I was advised to let the marathon organisers know that i was visually impaired and would be walking with a guide. They very kindly gave my guide a complimentry entry which was fantastic.

I decided to stay up in Belfast the night before so that i was there in good time and wasn’t rushing to get there especially as it was starting at Stormont and not the city hall like in previous years. Plus they were closing the roads to traffic from 8 o’clock onwards, so i didn’t want to get the train and not be able to get up there.

I left the Holiday inn where i was staying

This morning around 8 o’clock and walked to the city hall where i got a shuttle bus up to Stormont. I needn’t have worried though as the bus got us there in plenty of time. I just had the task of locating my guide who was waiting for me. After a bit of phone tag, we finally caught up with each other and headed towards the start line. As always, there was a great buzz and atmosphere about with music to get us going. After a few minutes, the runners were off, followed by all the walkers. There seemed to be loads of walkers which was brilliant to see.

The route was very flat for the whole way.

We left Stormont and headed along the newtownards road, before eventually getting to the Castleray road, before heading along Montgomery road to eventually end up heading along the toepath and back to Ormeau park where the finish line was. There had been some contraversy about the marathon being on a Sunday, but a lot of churches lined the route with jelly babies and water for everyone. There were bands and music at a lot of the stations too which was brilliant and really added to the atmosphere. We stopped along the way for photos and just enjoyed ourselves. I didn’t care how long i took to finish, just as long as i did it.

When we got on to the toepath, my guide got the tunes going and we were singing away. We then found ourselves kind of gently jogging when Fleatwood mack came on and just got in to the rhythm. We hadn’t planned to, it just kind of happened. A bit of Tina Turner soon braught us back to our normal pace though. We completed the walk in 2 hours 45 minutes which was only 6 minutes faster than when we did it back in 2015. I was really pleased with that.

After getting photos done of us and our medals, we collected our goody bags and headed home. It really was a brilliant day and it didn’t feel like 9 miles at all. I really liked the new route too and think it is far better than the old route. I would like to thank my guide for walking with me. We really did have a blast.

Here is a photo of my guide and i after we’d finished the walk. Thanks to one of the marathon officials for taking it for us.