On Sunday Ushi and i took part in an event called
Which is a womens only event sponsored by the Belfast telegraph. It’s been going for about 7 or 8 years i think now all across northern ireland. It was organised by the team over at
This was my first experience of Run her. I was going to go to one in June which was down in Larne, but unfortunately that didn’t happen due to a very poor taxi service, but that’s for another time. Anyway this run her event was being held at Titanic quarter in Belfast and it was at 2 o’clock.
As well as the main run her, there was a “Big school run” which was for all secondary aged pupils. There was also a “Dash for kids” which was for the younger runners. This was the first time holding these two other events, and judging from what i’ve heard, it was a great success. Both these races were 5 k (3 miles) and they happened before the main event.
When i arrived at Titanic quarter, i was met by Julie, my guide for the day. A woman who was also on the train down with me helped me too. First port of call was pack collection as i needed to get my race number and timing chip. This was my first time using a timing chip which is a little disk that you tie on to your shoe laces. This information got me in a panick, as i don’t wear shoes with laces-i could never quite grasp that technique. One of the pure running team suggested i tie it on to Ushi’s collar, which worked a treat. I never thought of that. As well as having Julie, i planned to work ushi round the course which was 10 k (6 miles). I thought since she had done the
Belfast marathon 8 mile walk
Back in May, and the fact that she does parkrun, she’d be grand working the 10 k. If of course she showed any signs of not wanting to do the course i’d have respected that.
While we waited for the race to start, Julie showed me what was in my pure running goody bag. I got 3 cartons of Ocean spray Crambery juice, a pen, a voucher for an hours physio at a place called Apex physio, a voucher for Funderland, which is a fun fair type thing, some sort of seeds, a pure running t shirt, and some sugar free chocolate, which was nice at the time, but it upset the apple cart inside me a bit later on lol.
Finally, it was time to head down to the start line.
were there with a big bus thing they have for broadcasting outside. One of the djs Sonya mac was there too. There was a guy called fitness Freddy was getting a lot of the runners warmed up before the race. You could either run or walk it.
After the warm up, all the runners went first, followed by the walkers. Dame Mary Peters was walking it too. She won a lot of gold medals in the ollympics in the 1970s, so she’s a bit of a hero here. There is a track named after her too. While the women ran or walked, the husbands were left to babysit. There were lots of activities for the kids though.
The course took in a lot of belfast. We went past the old Harlind and Wolf shipyards, up round the back of Bombardia, back round in a loop to the cranes that were used to move the titanic, past the old docs, over a bridge that linked titanic quarter with Holywood, in through Victoria park and back the way we came. I’m sure i’ve missed out something, but there was a lot of looping round to make it up to 6 miles. There were marshils all along the route cheering us all on. There were quite a few women from
Who know me from parkrun doing the run and cheering me along the way.
Ushi worked the route brilliantly, only stopping for busy stops and when we were in Victoria park. She didn’t really like when we had to go on the road sometimes though as that was the only way to go and the roads were closed to traffic.
My guide Julie was fantastic. She was a little nervous at the start, but once she got in to the swing of it, she was grand. We had some laughs along the way.
We finished the course in 2 hours, 2 minutes which i was pleased about. The timing chip didn’t register though as you have to step on these mats and it dings. It must go on your weight though as it didn’t register Ushi stepping on it at all. I still got my time though which was fab. I got a mention on Cool fm and got to meet Mary Peters. I got my picture taken with her which is at the top of this post. I also got a running jacket from Pure running. It is a very thin jacket because it is made of a breathable material to stop sweat and such. Obviously it would probably be too cold to wear it now that it is getting colder, but it will be useful for when it’s maybe humid but too warm for a big coat. I can’t wait to wear it.
I would like to thank Pure running for organising the whole thing, and for the telegraph for sponsoring it. I would also like to thank Julie and most of all Ushi for letting me work her round the course. I would like to thank Dame Mary Peters for saying hello and staying until i could meet her. I think there could have been some more water stops as there was only one, but i had water with me anyway.
It was a fabulous day and the sun shone :).
Here is the article from the
I did last week. After alot of asking on twitter, I finally got hold of an email address to contact. I must say that within a couple of hours of contacting them this morning, I did get a very quick response. I would like to thank Jamie Mcdowell for the nice interview, and the quick email. I didn’t say exactly what is rritten here, but even still, it was a good spread to promote guide dogs, and
Long line surf school
I’ll post the pictures at the bottom. I even got some that weren’t in the article as only two were. Thanks again Long line and the telegraph! I don’t know what the headline was though for the article. I think the title is “making a splash”. The pictures are at the start of the article. I’ll post the two that weren’t in it at the bottom then. It’s copied from a PDF so there might be some mistakes. I’ve tried to correct them. Enjoy!
Making a splash
FRIDAY OCTOBER 12 2012
She cannot see but Torie is still on the crest of a wave.
As Guide Dogs Week
girl Tori Tennant tells
Jamie McDowell how
she defied blindness
to become a surfer
Jumping into the Atlantic ocean at
this time of the year might seem a
daunting prospect, but for the die hard surfers that live along our post card perfect shores, it’s a way of life.
For those unfamiliar with our booming surf
culture, Northern Ireland is quickly becoming the place for surf tourists worldwide to
check off their list.
For people like Tori Tennant, from Ballymena, however, the sport has opened up
a whole new world of opportunities. Unlike many of the surfers you’ll see trying to
catch a wave along the north coast at the
weekend, Tori has been blind from birth.
She’s also the youngest owner of a guide
dog in the country at 22.
“I was born prematurely and that’s how
I lost my vision,” says Tori, who frequently hits the waves with the Long Line Surf
school at Benone beach near Limavady.
“I was 18 when I applied to get my guide
dog. Normally it takes six to 12 months for
the people who train them to find one
that suits you, but in my case it actually
took 15 months.
“My dog Ushi is three years old
and I finally got to meet her on my
20th birthday, so she was a lovely
“She’s really changed my life. I
can go to the shops and go for a walk
when I want. I always talk to her
while I’m walking along — I’m sure
passers-by wonder about me.”
Though having a guide dog has
helped Tori in her everyday life, Ushi
isn’t too keen on Tori’s new hobby. She
explains: “Ushi doesn’t like to get her
paws wet. She’s a bit of a madam. Even
when it rains it takes twice as long to go
anywhere because she doesn’t like it. So
when I go surfing she prefers to stay on
Being an outdoors person by nature, it
wasn’t long until Tori came across surfing.
“One of the community development
officers that works with blind people put
me in touch with a guy called Brian McDonagh, from Derry, who’s also blind,”
“He came up with the idea of going to
Long Line Surf School which has surf boards that are specially adapted for disabled and autistic people.
“I decided to give it a go and I’m really
glad I did.
“It’s kind of scary at the start, especially when the waves go over your head because it’s easy to get disorientated, but
Dan Lavery and the other instructors are
with us at all times and they’re lifeguards
She adds: “It’s a great feeling when I’m
on a wave and I’m zooming along.
“The boards are good because I have
two handles at the front to hold on to and
there’s room at the back for the instructor
to hold on as well.
“There’s a good group of blind people
who’re trying surfing now, and even the instructors have tried surfing blindfolded to
see what it’s like for us.
“I think things like surfing for disabled
people really opens peoples’ attitudes to the
possibilities there are. I mean why not?”
Dan Lavery (22) and his brother Gareth
run Long Line Surf School which was set
up only a year ago, and since then they’ve
pioneered surfing for the disabled.
Dan explains: “I was working at a surf
school in Cornwall when I came up with
“I live in Benone myself and I knew
that we wanted to open a surf school but
we didn’t want to leave anyone out — we
didn’t want to have to turn anyone away because of a disability.”
He adds: “I have a friend in Cornwall
who makes surfboards, so I got these big
9ft 6in boards made that have three straps
along each side and room at the back for
the instructor. This means that if a person
with a disability is on the board, we can
paddle them into the wave and it takes
away a lot of the intimidation that people
Dan’s take on surfing for disabled people has proved a huge success, but it’s only
recently that he’s realised that blind people can take part in the surfing, too.
He explains: “So far we’ve mostly been
going surfing with people with autism or
wheelchair users, but after bumping into
someone from the Guide Dogs NI, we decided to let some blind people give it a try.
“It’s amazing the response we get from
people who’re trying surfing for the first
time. It really hits home when you’re out
there, the level of trust they’re putting in
“My brother Gareth even decided to try
surfing blindfolded and after falling off his
board he became really disorientated.
“We’ve now made some blacked out
goggles so that all of the instructors can try
it so they understand how scary it can
He adds: “We’ve also introduced a blind
surfing section to our surfing competitions so competitive surfers can get an
idea of what it’s like as well.”
For more information on the Long Line Surf
School visit http://www.longlinesurf.con
It costs Guide Dogs around £50,000 to
support a guide dog from birth to retirement
It takes around 20 months of specialised
training to transform a newborn puppy
into a confident guide dog
A Walk My Way event will be taking
place in Belfast in the grounds of City Hall
today from 10:30am until 4pm, where
members of the public can come and experience how visually impaired people get
out and about
You can have a go at a blindfolded walk
around an obstacle course using a long
cane or with a guide dog in harness, and
experience being guided by a volunteer
On Wednesday i got a call from guide dogs saying that the
Wanted to do a piece about the surfing
I took part in in July. So i said i would go down but that i would need a driver. (I wish i didn’t have to ask them but they are there to help us i suppose). I had texted our branch organiser saying i wasn’t sure whither to bring Ushi but that i would love to. I then got a text from my volunteer driver saying she’d love to take Ushi a walk as i surfed. So that was sorted! Ushi was coming after all.
So at about a quarter to 10 we hit the road. We had arrived early so we took Ushi for a quick run on the beach before we were to get suited up in our wetsuits. She loved it. I braught her Goughnut too and she played with it for a while before getting bored. She sniffed some seaweed before a wave came up behind her and quickly made her drop it lol. We headed up to the boardwalk again after that to get our wetsuits.
I am pleased to say there are now new changing rooms for people, which are much bigger than the last ones when i was first down there. The wetsuit was still its huge awkward self but we eventually got it on. I would have thought Ushi might find the suit a bit strange but she could have cared less about it. She did however lick my foot as i was putting on my wetsuit boots lol.
We were then ready to head back down to the beach. We tried to get Ushi to stand on a board on the sand, but she was having none of it, prefering to jump over it. She then had a great roll around the sand and started kicking it up. She even kicked me out of the way at one point lol as if to say this is my photo.
I would have expected her to come out and rescue me when i went in to surf, but the volunteer driver who was going to take her for a walk just let her run about, and she apparently sat watching me for a while, before lying down. She apparently had a really disgusting look on her face as if to say “what are you doing in that wet? Come here and be with me on dry land”.
The surf was great, and i found myself not being as nervous as i was before. I’m glad to say the waves weren’t as big as the last time so they didn’t go over my head. I don’t like the feeling when that happens.
There was one point where the photographer wanted all three of us on the board (two instructors and me). I thought it was alright for him to say that when he is on the shore, he wasn’t out on the board! We managed to get squeezed in though, but when we were out the lens on his camera stopped working!
When we arrived back at the beach, Ushi didn’t even come to greet us, rather we had to greet her! We had to get a photo of us in about ankle deep water which Ushi wasn’t a fan of. One photo of me with my arm resting on the board, i had to hold my arm round Ushi as she wanted to lie down but the photographer wanted her to sit.
It was then up to get changed.
We had a spot of lunch before we left, and then headed for home.
On the way, we called into the volunteer drivers house as she wanted to let me and Ushi meet her Elk hound. He was away for a walk, so we got to meet Pippa the jack russle instead. Ushi didn’t know what to make of her. I think she thought she was a wind up toy! She then wanted to go into the volunteers house lol.
I would like to thank the volunteer driver, and the folks at Long line surf school for today. Remember to look out for the Belfast telegraph over the next couple of days.