Thousands of UK runners will be preparing to head to the Big Apple next month for New York Marathon on 1 November. For one runner it represents a greater challenge than you might imagine.
23-year-old Michael Smith was diagnosed with a condition called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. This condition leads to the loss of vision and stops vital information being relayed from the eyes to the brain. Heartbreakingly, Michael’s twin brother Danil was also diagnosed with the same condition, with the brothers losing their sight within months of each other.
Michael has since taken up running, as he explains: “Before losing my sight I had undertaken some endurance cycling so I knew my body was built for long distance sport. It was therefore a natural progression for me to want to run a marathon. The goal of running a marathon as a visually impaired athlete kept me motivated and made me enjoy running even more.”
Michael will be going to New York with the travel company, Sports Tours International, who have been taking thousands of participants to the marathon for the past 40 years.
Around 50,000 participants will line up in the Big Apple on race day for the world’s biggest marathon. The race provides a whistle-stop tour of New York, going through all five boroughs. The first stop over the bridge is Brooklyn, New York's most populous borough. The race continues past the buildings and buzz of Queens and the Bronx, before reaching the exhilarating crowds in Manhattan. Central Park provides the setting for the last 1.6 miles of the course where spectators gather to watch participants take their last few strides to the finish.
For information on next year’s race you can sign up to the Sports Tours International newsletter at their website.