The past year my life has changed dramatically. Perhaps the most important I became a father. In an effort to make my life challenging I also decided to start a new career path and begin training to become an ultra endurance athlete. I began all of these new ventures in the same week; just to compound the pressure!
Now nearly a year later I have begun to reflect on where I am and how the public image I have created is perceived. My public image is created around the fact I am a blind ultra runner and to a further extent the fact I train solo outdoors. As I begin to reflect on this public image I am a little uneasy.
What image am I creating of a disabled person? Am I utilising my disability as a PR stunt?
It is these two questions that are currently making me think. When I began my journey to compete at the ultra distance I had never thought about the public discovering what I was doing. So when did that change?
It all changed when I realised how expensive training for an ultra had become and I needed to reach out to companies for support. This is where I made the choice to market myself as a blind ultra runner. I am now wondering how the public at large perceives this. I hope people don’t perceive me as constantly marketing myself on my disability in an effort to gain support.
It is such a fine line to walk; I don’t think I can escape the moniker of a blind ultra runner or if I even want to. I hope the message that does come across is the ability to adapt. That’s my core belief and the reason I own this domain name. I constantly adapt to overcome barriers and that is the message I really want to project.
I think right now I am just a little confused about the entire situation but that could be related to the opportunities I have been granted. In the past year I have appeared in magazines, newspapers, live television, international television, books and I now have a TV commercial about my running. It is difficult to process how far I have come in such a short space of time.
Perhaps the uncertainty is a good thing, as I will constantly remain thankful for the opportunities I have been given. This post has perhaps been my most scattered in a while but it is basically how I feel about the situation. I am becoming far more conscious of how I project myself and being careful of the message I carry.
However perception is always down to the individual, so knowing how people perceive my story and process it will always be personal to them. The one thing I will always be vigilant of is to not label myself beyond the boundaries of who I am. I am blind, I am an ultra runner, I am a father. Any other labels attached to myself is down to the individual.
3 thoughts on “Reflective”
I wouldn’t worry to much about image. In your blog you come off as being rather humble, and your posts are always fact-laden and informative. I enjoy reading these posts and, yes, I read them as the thoughts of a blind ultrarunner, but that does not take away all the other rich aspects of your life. We all bear many caps, and have different identities to different people. So: please keep these posts coming!
I will definitely keep posting on here. I am just becoming very conscious of what I communicate. I think it’s mainly in the media opportunities as it’s difficult to represent a broad picture in a few hundred words or a short interview.
It must be difficult, I think it’s about integrity at the core of it and your blog post screams of the fact that you have it. There will always be people who question what you do, how you do it and most importantly why you do it. Stay true to yourself and your core principles (which you blatantly are doing) and as long as you do that anybody questioning your integrity is going to be in a minority. Just view this as one more situation to adapt to.
Like you said its always going to be difficult in a 3 minute TV spot or in a few hundred words but those things are a snapshot, a scaled down representation of you. Anybody who’s interested will look at the bigger picture and it’s those people who will see what we all see, screw the rest.
Haters gonna hate