What it’s like to be a guide runner
Ben Mair, founder of Granite City Guide Running shares his guide running experiences since he started 9 months ago.
It’s now close to 9 months since I started as a guide runner, and I’ll happily tell you it’s one of the most challenging but rewarding things I’ve ever done!
I wanted to push myself further while taking part in running events, and got in touch with a local sensory impairment charity that paired me with my new running partner Leona, who was looking for a new guide. Leona is deaf as well as partially blind, so when we run side by side there is no visual or audible communication between the two of us. As I said, being a guide runner is definitely a challenge!
This means one of the key things in our running partnership is trust. Leona needs to know that she can trust me to safely guide her round a park or busy area at a moderate running speed. I had no idea at the beginning just how much concentration I’d need just to make our way round a simple lap of the Duthie park; dogs on leads have never looked more threatening to me!
Another key thing is our way of communicating. Any potential hazard I notice ahead, I grip Leona’s forearm to make her aware. If we reach an incline I raise her arm, if we head downhill I lower it; it’s a simple yet effective way of talking during a run. I’ve also completed an online course on British Sign Language, which helps me have a chat with Leona post-run about how knackered I am!
Being a guide runner has given me so much confidence to get out there and be responsible for the safety of another person, as well as given me the opportunity to learn a new language I had absolutely no prior experience in. I’ve also met lots of new people along the way that I’m fortunate to now call friends.
Ben will be attending this year’s BHGE 10k Running Seminar on Thursday 8th March at Transition Extreme.