Dr Blind Dave Heeley is no stranger to challenges. He was the first and only blind person in the world to have completed the ultimate endurance challenge of 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents and is now mid-way through his latest epic adventure.
He along with his guides, Garry and Tony, are attempting to complete all 24 Great Runs this year and fundraising for The Albion Foundation. They began their journey back in January in Edinburgh and their final run will be the Great Ethiopian Run in November.
The Runderwear™ Team caught up with Dave following the Bristol Half Marathon. Read on for his race report.
After getting home from the match, West Brom v West ham, not the best game in the world but a point is better than none. Tony picked us up in the Blind Dave Team bus, then headed down the M5 for Bristol. The motorways have not been kind to us the past couple of weeks and it appears today is no exception! Junction 14 and the motorway is shut, sadly a fatal accident. So once again a journey of an hour and half took us considerably longer, with the traffic heavy, rain pouring, hoping it clears for the morning we got to Bristol city centre and the spot under the flyover we parked in for the 10k was available. Parked up, generator on, kettle on, we settled for the night. Before a cuppa mind, it pleased me no end that Tony had to go find a shop as we had no sugar, that will teach him, soaking wet on his return, I had the last laugh this week, plus sugar in my coffee! Kit ready, we settled down for the night, but as per normal we had all the joy riders until the early hours, guess this no sleeping lark must help our running!
Sunday morning, as predicted the weather was perfect for running, so kit on, breakfast we made our way to the start. Around 8.30, a fresh but dry morning, caught up with some of the great run team, smiles and banter, after a few photos, our mascot Shelly 2 was pinned on me and we were ready for the off, told we would have our start at 9.15, the hooter sounded and the three of us began run 17.
We ran off to another great reception, the lads telling me we were on the course from the 10k. We followed the river for around 4 miles, flattish, then we turned and ran back up the opposite side of the dual carriageway. At around 5 miles the front runners came hurtling down the other side of the dual carriageway, followed shortly after by the faster club runners and then the masses. The shouts from these guys was brilliant, voices rang out it seemed every step. At this point a voice shouted as she passed the other way, Blind Dave its Vania! Vania was a young lady I met at the North run last week, she was representing Venuzvalia as one of the world runners, nice to hear her voice. love running events, the camaraderie is just simply fantastic. We were soon to run under the Clifton suspension bridge, as we passed under, Tony had rung his mom, on loud speaker we all three sang happy birthday to her, not too many have been serenaded by out of tune runners, passing under a bridge in the middle of a half marathon, well there’s a first for everything! At this point I also asked Tony if Garry had his sun glasses on again, for a while now the crowds had been expressing a keen shout for him, come on Garry you can do it, once again the crowds with his dark glasses on thought he was the blind one! We do rib him for this reason, laughing as we ran, now heading back towards the city centre, the crowds getting more intense, it was about this time I reminded them of the announcement at the start! Slightly undulating, this word undulating covers a multitude of sins! My legs and the lad’s moans told me there were some serious inclines. Hitting the city centre, the support from the crowds was magic, mind the sharp left, right, left, right, slowed us slightly, the cobbles under foot made me tred gingerly. We went up, flat, down, round, up, down, twisting and turning. All the time the crowds shouting, runners all converging and chatting, egging each other on, certainly great advertisement for all the shops as we ran through the city, any shoppers amongst us would know where to go afterwards! Suddenly a lady shouted out there was only 800 yards to go, neither Tony or Garry had mentioned the 12-mile marker, what a bonus as they said the finish line was in sight! We crossed the finish in a reasonable time of 1.48, with a couple of photos, collected our goody bags, medals on then we kept on walking, right into a coffee shop, the gallery. A nice little place, a chair, hot drink and that 5-minute rest which is magic after a good run.
We were only yards from our team bus, we clapped a few straggling runners as they passed by, with a quick change, we then headed homewards. To our horror we rolled on to the motorway to find it still closed from the night before, the annoyance is that no signs had been put on, not until you got onto the motorway and stopped. Once again, the motorway had caught us out, another detour, we had to wait a few more hours for that promised dinner, still run 17 under our belts, next stop Ipswich next week.