I am Simon Wheatcroft I live in Rossington a small village near Doncaster in the UK. I lost my sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa and this blog covers how I am adapting to losing my sight and my daily life.
I was born with Retinitis Pigments a genetic retinal disorder that deteriorates your retina as you age. I found out I had RP at the age of 13-14 and it wasn’t long till I was registered blind. At 17 I was legal blind, meaning I had met the legal criteria for that classification. However I could still see.
I had met the criteria as I had lost enough peripheral vision to be deemed as having difficulties with functional vision. As time passed my vision became worse. BY the age of 26 it had reached a point that I had considered bad. I could no longer realistically move around without a mobility aid.
Now at the age of 30 my vision has deteriorated significantly. I no longer have peripheral vision. edge detection, full colour detection, poor central vision, total night blindness and a myriad of other issues. To put it simply I can no longer see faces and am unable to get around without my guide dog.
In 2010 I was between finishing work and beginning college. Incredibly bored I needed something to fill the time. With little money, I needed a cheap hobby. Running seemed ideal, the only problem is I couldn’t afford a gym or a treadmill. With all my friends working I knew if I wanted to do it I had to learn to run alone.
So one day I headed out to some football fields behind my house aligned myself in the centre of the goal posts and ran. I learnt to run up and down the football pitches between the goal posts. I figured no one would bother me there. It turned out dog walkers were a real problem. They assumed I could see them so didn’t move. I assumed they would see me and move. It just didn’t work.
Living near an airport I thought I could head over there to run. So I persuaded my wife to drive me out to a closed road near the airport. Armed with RunKeeper and some double yellow lines I ran up and down the closed road. I used the yellow lines as an indicator underfoot of where I was. This worked out really well, RunKeeper would give me audio markers so I knew how far I had gone and all I had to do was run up and down the yellow lines.
This became boring. I thought I could perhaps go out onto the open road and follow the yellow lines and use RunKeeper. So I stepped out onto the open road atop the closed road and ran down the yellow lines. Reaching the bottom I thought well maybe I could just keep on running and use RunKeeper to let me know how far I am going. So thats what I did. I just ran down the road.
After doing that I realised I could use the distance markers on RunKeeper and the feeling underfoot to map out a route. I spent the newt few weeks and months doing exactly that. Through trial and error, running into posts and traffic lights, reading the ground underfoot and pairing all of that with RunKeeper I learnt a route.
After mastering the route I needed a new challenge. I had heard of ultra running so thought why not just train to do that. Today I continue to train and try and push the limits of what is possible through running.
In the video below I talk through how I run. It covers a section of my route. The end point is actually the top of the closed road.