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.