Running a 5K Blindfolded

More than 30 athletes will run the B.A.A. 5K blindfolded to raise money for the blind community this weekend.

Blindfold Challenge

Li and Thai will take to the streets blindfolded this weekend. Photo provided

Running 26.2 miles is a challenge, to be sure. But can you imagine running without being able to see? Even just for one mile?

The day before the Boston Marathon, Diana Li and Pearl Thai who will do just that. These two brave souls are participating in the Blindfold Challenge at the Boston Athletic Association’s (B.A.A.) 5K, an element of the race that raises money and awareness for four organizations that benefit the visually impaired and blind community: Carroll Center for the Blind, Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MAB), National Braille Press, and Perkins School for the Blind. Sixty-four of the 6,500 runners participating in the 5K will do so as part of the Blindfold Challenge (each blindfolded runner is accompanied by a sighted guide), and each team must raise a minimum of $500 for the cause.

Li (who will be blindfolded) and Thai are running for MAB. In a report from MAB, Li says:

“I am currently working with MAB to obtain a volunteer position as well, where I can work with those who are visually impaired or blind. I am very excited to commence this experience, where I may help them read their mail, go on walks with them to run errands, buy groceries, or help with their banking. It has definitely been an eye opening experience learning from MAB and those who use their services,” says Li, a New England College of Optometry student.

Even with the sighted guide, the Blindfold Challenge is tough. The blindfolded team member is connected to his or guide by a leather tether, and they run right alongside the other competitors with only one training session to prepare. The course also covers parts of the iconic Boston Marathon course, ending at the finish line.

Though the Marathon may be heavy on the B.A.A.’s mind this week, B.A.A. Executive Director Tom Grilk also voices his support of the Blindfold Challenge in the report:

“We are pleased to collaborate with these splendid organizations during the B.A.A. 5K on Boston Marathon weekend, when many are inspired by the spirit of the marathon and the stories of people overcoming obstacles and embracing possibilities,” said Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk. “Running blindfolded symbolizes the forceful approach to the challenge embraced by these institutions and the people with whom they work.”