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Milton Keynes Festival of running 2015 – Guide for the blind

March 11, 2015 by Martin Lawrence
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We asked Alan to write up a bit about his day at the Festival on Sunday, it is below – fabulous write up – well done Alan

Martin has asked me to do a report on the guided 20 mile run with Louise Simpson, so here goes. I will start with a little about me, Alan Mckinnon AKA Sgt Mack of Special Ops MK.

I am coming up (Far too fast) on my 51st birthday and still like to push myself like to the max, I suppose I have never known anything else. I am if being honest a bit of a softy when it comes to anyone needing help or looking out for others. So when Martin posted on the FB page that a blind lady needed a guide for the 20 miles, I didn’t even think I just said I will do that, it was only after I had emailed Louise (The blind lady) that I would happily guide her that I remembered that I had promised Lisa a good friend that I would pace her for a sub 2 hours on the half!

One bottle of Champagne and lots of sorry’s later Lisa said she was OK with it! Well so she said, but I knew I had put a fire in her belly! Just what she needed.

Any way the big day came and I went and collected Louise, Kerry and Lisa and drove them back to my house to then walk over to the city centre ready for the start. After picking up our race numbers from race control and a few hello’s to some people I knew, we started to make our way to the start, at this point I was just starting to get to know Louise and finding out what she needs me to do too make her run as safe and comfortable as possible.

We were making our way to the start not that easy when guiding someone when so many people just wandering about and me trying to navigate Louise over kerbs and around people and obstacles, but thinking it’s ok we got enough time as it’s 09:47 and 3 minutes to go I wish! Just heard “Set, Bang” that was the start gun and we were of! Ok no problem let’s get settled and of we went, first 5 miles was nice and relaxed and soon had a few running with us at the same pace all was good. I was doing my best to pre warn Louise of the ground that we were running on as well as making sure other runners were not getting in our way telling her when going up down left right.

On that for the whole 20 miles she did not trip or stumble once the whole way so I think I did ok, but (Lock me in a room with this guy and he will see not such a gentile Sgt Mack!) later on in the race one of the front runners ran past so close that he clipped Louise as he came past making her jump out her skin. So if you were that runner (He was not in a RR T-Shirt) I do not apologise for my language as you had the whole Redway to pass on but no you though it would be clever to try and get as close as possible.

Any on we plodded at a steady 5 mph but by the time we got to 10 miles I was starting to hurt, I could not work out why as 10 miles for me is easy. It was then I started to realise I was actually pulling Louise along. So during or conversations I asked how much training do you do each week/Month? Her reply was none I just book on to the race and turn up and run! This made me smile and thought I need some help here, so changed for Alan to my alter ego Sgt Mack.

Any of you that know me well will know I have to very different sides to me, Sgt Mack is fearless and just mad. So at about mile 10 he took over and (Good job he did) or I don’t think we would have finished, as we got to mile 18 I thought right time to climb through Campbell Park, we can walk it or I just lock Louise’s hand to my arm and go for it! Sgt Mack went for it and we or should I say just pulled like a horse all the way to then end. We had done it in a time of 4 hours 10 minutes. And not last either so all in all we did good.

I hope Louise was happy to have completed the 20 miles and I would do it again in a heart beat, she is an amazing lady and I am completely humbled by her grit and determination. For me it was the toughest thing I have done outside of the army and is right up there with one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, however, there are some things that made and spoiled the day!

Bad points first why did it start 3 minutes early? Why was there no one out cheering on the course? The fast 20 milers running into the back of the main half runners. And then at the end for us knowing that we had put in more effort than most we were met at the end by no one from the festival? We even had to beg for our cheap and nasty medals that were the wrong ones!

Good points Cross Keys! If not for you guys we would not have finished. Marshals out on the course you are all stars and thank you for your support. And the handful of RR guys at the finish thank you so much, even Sgt Mack had a lump in his throat. PS Lisa got a 1:52! I knew she would smash it.

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