Hi I’m Daniel, I’m 26 and I have retinitis pigmentosa; resulting in night blindness, light sensitivity, loss of peripheral vision and limited blurred central vision. I live in North Wales and despite being a fairly nice place to live there is very little to do in the area, which becomes even more restrictive when you’re visually impaired. After my studies I was looking for work, meeting up with friends occasionally and going to the gym now and again however I still felt bored, frustrated and down and felt like I wasn’t being productive and felt like everything was repetitive and invariable. As a result I gave up on looking for things to do in the area after trying for so long.
That was until another visually impaired friend of mine came across an App called Run Together. In partnership with England Athletics and promoted by British Blind Sport it is designed to help Blind and partially sighted people find a guide runner who will help them run and navigate routes. This is not a service in Wales though which is such a shame however despite this our guide runner Mary Rees will come to run with us once every couple weeks and make the long journey to come pick us up. First meeting her late last year I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy running and how much I was going to progress. It started off running around a football field with a tether and getting used to it, then within a couple months doing my first 5K parkrun.
I then realised after that first park run that I had found what I had being looking for. Thanks to Mary’s help and support she got me networking with other runners in my area. I then started running with a man called Tony Parvin and a woman called Carla Green for park runs. I wanted to develop, progress and challenge myself so after a few park runs I started entering local 10K races with Carla being my guide for the majority of them. I was so happy to of found what gave me drive and motivation and was significantly improving my mental health as well. After a few months of running and racing I joined the North Wales Road Runners club which Carla is a member of. Despite being visually impaired the club is so friendly and inclusive that I felt I fitted right in straight away and I had no anxiety or concerns.
Now nearly a year on I train regularly with Tony and Carla and occasionally Mary and I am still entering races and pushing myself to go harder and faster with each one. I also have my first half marathon beginning of October, which I am buzzing for. I can’t say thank you enough either for everyone who has ran with me either over the months as without their generosity and support I would not of being able to accomplish any of this. I would really recommend any blind/partially sighted person to actively participate in sport or leisure activity. The physical and mental benefits are so valuable and important to having a happy, healthy life and it will help you challenge yourself, network with people, create friendships, integrate into clubs and events and so much more. Whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, gym classes or join a sport team, just take the leap and it could change your life. Thank you for reading my story.