Sacramento, Calif. – For the 12th year, the United States Association of Blind Athletes is partnering with the Sacramento Running Association to host the USABA Marathon National Championships presented by Allworth Financial in conjunction with the California International Marathon. This year, the group of more than 100 blind runners and guides includes military veterans, local runners, international runners and Paralympic athletes.
Among the runners will be Paralympians Kyle Coon (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Calahan Young (Irwin, Pa.) who both competed at the Tokyo Games this summer. Coon, a triathlete, finished fifth in the PTVI division race on August 28. His time of 1 hour, 3 minutes, was just 40 seconds behind the bronze medalist.
“I’m always excited when I get to participate in the USABA Marathon National Championships’ weekend of events,” Coon said. “I love witnessing and being part of an event that brings the running community together. Having participated in this event several times I can personally attest to the power of the blind running community, and I’m thrilled to continue being part of its growth.”
Competing in his first Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Young led the USA Men’s Goalball team with 20 goals in seven games en route to their fourth-place finish.
“As a Paralympic athlete I am always trying to spread awareness of adaptive sports and what people with disabilities can accomplish,” said Young. “By competing in this marathon, I am trying to show just how much is possible, even when it comes to something that is outside of your comfort zone. I am not the world’s fastest or strongest runner, however, I love running, and want to serve as a role model that anyone can be active and engage in physical fitness.”
It’s a weekend affair for this group of runners and guides with multiple community meals and gatherings where they’re able to mingle and get to know one another and culminates with an awards ceremony Sunday afternoon.
Sixty-four sighted guides will lead the 41 runners which include four military veterans. Most runners will wear a bib or vest with the words “Blind Runner” displayed to alert other runners on the course. Their guide will wear a similar bib or vest which displays the word “Guide.” Most duos will hold a tether (a cord or string) to connect them. The guide’s role is to communicate upcoming obstacles and course directions while navigating the safest path possible through the course.
To bring awareness to the tight bond that exists between runners and guides, and to help create more opportunities for Americans with vision impairment to experience the life-changing benefits of sports, participants in this weekend’s race are taking part in the Team Tethered Together fundraising campaign, with the goal of raising $26,200 to coincide with the 26.2-mile distance of the marathon. Bios of all the visually impaired runners can be found at https://usabamnc.corvin.org/2021/.