Athletes from across the U.S. – and around the world – traveled to Sacramento in early December for the 2018 USABA Marathon National Championships. Nearly 50 runners and more than 60 guides, including three Paralympians and 11 military veterans, joined USABA for the 10th anniversary of the event.
Chaz Davis (Englewood, Colo.) and Jessica Loomer (Mesa, Ariz.) earned national titles and Nicholas DeWalque (Brussels, Belgium) and Juli Brandvold (Great Falls, Mont.) were honored with Richard Hunter Excellence in Running Awards.
In addition to the race on Sunday, runners and guides enjoyed multiple gatherings and meals together to introduce them to opportunities available to people with visual impairments as well as strengthen the community of the group.
Runners and guides were treated to a dinner at Sacramento Society for the Blind on Friday evening where Delta Gamma volunteers from Sacramento State and University of California Davis and staff of Society for the Blind welcomed the group to their city.
On Saturday morning, runners and guides heard from Amy Bernal from Aira about how Aira is helping people who are blind and visually impaired “see” their world with advanced technology. The group also heard from Kyle Coon, a fellow runner who recently broke 11 hours at Ironman Arizona, about his journey as a blind athlete. Representatives from Vanda’s Non-24 were also present to tell the group about the product and how it can improve their sleeping patterns.
Saturday evening, a room of more than 150 runners, guides and supporters came together for the annual pre-race dinner and hear from fellow runner and founder of 2020 VisionQuest, Randy Pierce. Pierce’s main message was an assertion to find value and meaning in helping others. He shared his experience helping others and also receiving help from others – and how those experiences have shaped him.
On race day, there were Personal Records set and Boston Qualifiers earned. The marathon was followed by an awards ceremony in which top finishers were acknowledged and awarded medals. Following the awards ceremony was a special time where people shared with the group the impact the weekend’s events or certain people had on their experience. One story many won’t soon forget is the story Deb Yoder, a guide, shared about losing her home to the Camp Fire but attending the weekend because she views the community as family.
Since 2009, USABA has partnered with Sacramento Running Association to make the California International Marathon (CIM) inclusive for runners with visual impairments. In addition to SRA, this year’s event was made possible by title sponsor Hanson McClain Advisors as well as Aira, Delta Gamma, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, The Gibney Family Foundation, Healthy Vision Association and Vanda Pharmaceuticals.
To support or get involved with this event, contact Richard Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.