A while back, DadHTP passed on an interesting series on Wired – Simon Wheatcroft, a blind runner, was training for the Cotswold 100, a grueling 100-mile ultramarathon in England.  Simon was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease when he was just a teen.  


Simon always had to rely on friends – guides – to help him workout.  But a short time ago, he decided to begin running outside on his own, with the aid of talking GPS devices and other electronic guides.  He worked his way up from a half marathon to beyond what most people could even imagine bike riding.  And then, running alongside his guides, Simon tackled 83 miles of the Cotswold 100 before pulling out.  He plans to do many more ultras and do Cotswold again in 2012. 


Here’s our interview!


You said you had never run a race before doing the Cotswold 100. What was the furthest distance you had run before you decided to train for Cotswold?  What made you think you were capable of running such long distances? 


Before I began training, the furthest I had run was around the 13-mile  mark.  At the beginning. it wasn’t simply a thought of being capable of  running the 100 miles… I just wanted to run beyond the marathon distance.  Doubling my current distance sounded far too easy.  Why spend my time working  towards something I considered easily achievable?  There is more fun in finding your limit. 




What are your favorite songs to run to?


I mainly listen to hip-hop and soul while running.  For ultra training, these are my two favorite songs:

I Need a Dollar


Opportunity Knocks


What is your favorite mid-run fuel for really long runs?


If I am heading out on a 30-mile run, there are two foods that I always look forward to eating: PB&J sandwiches and salted crisps (potato chips).  Those crisps are literally the best thing I have tasted after a long run – potato and salt what more do you need?  A very talented runner once told me “food is mood,” and I know hold this quote dear.  Eating your favorite food can elevate you and push you forward.  It doesn’t have to necessarily be performance food – it can be  anything, anything that elevates your mood is what makes the biggest


Do you think blind runners have any advantages over seeing runners?


This is a tough call.  Most  blind runners rely on guide runners during training or resort to the treadmill.  Personally, mastering training alone created a high level of mental hardiness.  I began to believe anything was possible and knew I could push my body to the absolute limit.  So if other people – blind or not – choose to take my route of training alone, I believe it gives them  a distinct mental advantage.


How do you prevent injuries and stay strong?


Injuries are always something that are at the back of my mind and are incredibly difficult to avoid when you are running such distances.  Because I am blind, tripping is a big problem and minor injuries are inevitable.  I try and negate this by icing after all runs over 5 miles.  Then, I take a hot shower.


What’s your favorite post-run meal?


Burger King… I just ran for 6 hours, after all!  I also like shakes from SiS and
Juice Plus.  


How did you cope with your diagnosis?  You were just a teenager – how did you deal with the lose of your sight?  What do you think seeing people should know about blind people and how to interact with them?


When I was initially diagnosed, I didn’t handle it well.  I was told at the age of 13 I would eventually be blind and then registered blind at 17.  Certainly not the best time to be told! It took a number of years before I could strike a great balance and create a positive outlook. Emotionally dealing with the loss of my sight is a process.  For example, to prevent myself from misplacing my keys, I have to memorize where I put everything, which is a drain.  I lose things a lot.  Not being able to find my running gear is at the top of the frustration list!   A lot of sighted people seem to struggle with interacting with the blind.  It can be difficult for a sighted person to understand what is going on, especially regarding mobility, but overall just treat the blind like you would anybody else and don’t be afraid to offer assistance!


What is your must-have runner’s gear?


Running socks, for the price they have had the biggest effect on the comfort of my running.  Oh and Buff headwear, love the stuff, rarely run without it.


Why do you run such incredible distances?  What do you get out of it?


As any disabled person will probably agree, we are easily labeled.  We can choose to operate within the perceived boundaries of our label or exceed them.  Running long distances and choosing to train the way I do demonstrates to other people that these boundaries only exist as long as we choose to comply with them.  There is always a possibility to adapt and move forward.  I also get the opportunity to find and explore my personal limits.  Operating within something I perceive to be easily achievable offers no fulfillment… I need to be exploring.  If I discover a limit – be it mental or physical – I adapt and surpass that limit to find the next limit.  And then I break that, too. 


You can follow Simon’s blog here.  He’s also on Twitter.



  • Whitney July 12, 2011, 1:35 pm

    Amazing. Thank you for this, it was just what I needed today.

  • Whitney July 12, 2011, 1:35 pm

    Amazing. Thank you for this, it was just what I needed today.

  • karin (allpointswhole) July 12, 2011, 1:38 pm

    Love this interview. While training for my 1/2 in Indy, we had a blind runner/walker train with us. She used a guide dog and had to fight and hire a lawyer to get it passed for her to use him. Surprising that the largest 1/2 in the US, had never had this occur before and or would put up such a fight. But, she won and made local news! Never let anything get in your way!

  • Leanne (Bride to Mrs,) July 12, 2011, 1:38 pm

    Wow, what a courageous man! So inspirational 😀

  • Holly @ The Runny Egg July 12, 2011, 1:47 pm

    What an amazing man! I just subscribed to his blog. Thanks for sharing this!

  • cathy July 12, 2011, 2:03 pm

    what an awesome story. thanks, caitlin.
    your timing is esp fitting since the badwater ultramarathon is still going on (the runners started yesterday morning). ultrarunners are very inspiring!

  • Nikki July 12, 2011, 2:15 pm

    He is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing this, I can’t wait to read more about him.

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife July 12, 2011, 2:45 pm

    okay this is SO cool! And inspiring! Wow. I love this interview, thanks!!

  • kristen July 12, 2011, 2:48 pm

    What an amazing story!!! It makes you appreciate everything!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin July 12, 2011, 2:48 pm

    Wow, what an awesome guy! I love that Burger King is his favourite post run meal haha. 😀

  • Erica July 12, 2011, 2:53 pm

    Oh wow, this is awesome. What an inspirational guy.

    This part of the last paragraph really spoke to me:

    “As any disabled person will probably agree, we are easily labeled. We can choose to operate within the perceived boundaries of our label or exceed them. Running long distances and choosing to train the way I do demonstrates to other people that these boundaries only exist as long as we choose to comply with them. There is always a possibility to adapt and move forward.”

    While I am not disabled persay, I am in remission from breast cancer…and I’ve completed a half marathon and 2 marathons since my diagnosis in 2008. I won’t let anyone tell me where my boundaries are…I’m stubborn like that;-) And I can see this same “stubbornness” in this guy! Love it!

  • Jane July 12, 2011, 2:54 pm

    Great interview! Very inspiring

  • Freya July 12, 2011, 2:55 pm

    Yep, he’s awesome (and British too! YAY!). I adore this quote:
    Why spend my time working towards something I considered easily achievable? There is more fun in finding your limit.
    Love love love. I just wrote it on my hand in prep for tomorrow morning’s long run! But yeah, what an incredible dude! I couldn’t run 83miles – he is actually incredible, utterly incredible.

  • Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me July 12, 2011, 2:56 pm

    This is very inspiring! What an awesome interview and person!

  • Jenny July 12, 2011, 3:04 pm

    Thanks for the series of great interviews – this is awesome!

  • Alex July 12, 2011, 3:06 pm

    Incredible…. what an inspiration!

  • Sarah July 12, 2011, 3:35 pm

    What an inspirational man with a gorgeous family! Thank you for posting this interview.

  • Meesh July 12, 2011, 3:43 pm

    That’s amazing! Thank you so much for posting!

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table July 12, 2011, 3:45 pm

    Such an inspiring story! It makes me realize I have no excuses to quit when I get frustrated.

    Totally agree with him on running socks being a must-have. They have made a huge difference in my foot-comfort. 🙂

  • Rachel July 12, 2011, 3:47 pm

    is it weird that my take-away from this is that he eats BK after long runs?? love that!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen July 12, 2011, 3:47 pm

    That’s such an awesome story. I’m continually amazed at all the inspiring people out there.

  • Katherine July 12, 2011, 4:13 pm

    Wow, this is amazing.

  • Rebecca July 12, 2011, 4:13 pm

    There’s a guy like Simon around here–or at least, he spoke nearby a few months ago. At first I thought maybe they were the same guy, but when I realized Simon was from England… nope, probably not the same guy. 🙂 My dad got to talk to “the blind runner” (can’t remember his name!!) from around here when he was in town sharing his story. As far as I know, he hasn’t done any runs or anything without guides. I think it’s great that Simon has started trying to run on his own! That’s really neat.

  • Christine @ BookishlyB July 12, 2011, 4:18 pm

    Take that, Dean Karnazes 🙂 But seriously, very inspiring. That was the kick in the butt I just needed to go get in a run.

  • alli July 12, 2011, 4:22 pm

    incredible! what an inspiration!!!

  • Emma @ Getting There & Going Places July 12, 2011, 4:51 pm

    Inspiring! 😀

  • Molly @ RDexposed July 12, 2011, 5:56 pm

    So inspirational.

    Ever heard the quote, “If Lance Armstrong can do it with only 1, you have no excuse.” This story made my mind drift to this.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey July 12, 2011, 6:51 pm

    This is absolutely amazing!

  • emily @ write twenty eleven July 12, 2011, 7:18 pm

    interesting thoughts and a cool story! thanks for sharing!

  • Carey @ Positively Blonde July 12, 2011, 7:24 pm

    Wow, that is so inspirational!!!

  • maria @ Chasing the Now July 12, 2011, 7:29 pm

    How inspiring. I love when you post these kinds of things!

  • Liz July 12, 2011, 7:44 pm

    That is SO SO awesome! Thanks for posting this, Caitlin. It’s exactly what I needed to read today.

  • Presley (run petty) July 12, 2011, 8:23 pm

    What an awesome story…

    “I Need a Dollar” is on one of my favorite running playlists! Love it!

  • Presley (run pretty) July 12, 2011, 8:25 pm

    So my page is def. “Run Pretty” not “Run Petty” haha cracks me up, though!

  • Hannah July 12, 2011, 8:42 pm

    This is so cool!!!! This post really hit home, not bcuz im blind or anything, I am young,( I wont poast my age for safty reasons, but ill just say im under 20) and the last time I was at the eye doctors he said the cells in my eye were a bit larger than usual and that they will have to keep an eye on them to make sure that they dont grow any larger because if they do it could be a sign of glaucoma (spelling?) which eventually makes one blind, but if it did happen it wouldnt happen for a while I’m not too worried about it, but the past few months Ive been thinking more about it Things like what if I have a family?? Will I be able to get around?? and more relatable to this post… How will I be able to run??? Seeing simon being able to run such a distance with no sight gives me courage that if their ever is a day that I cant see (which I really hope their wont be!!) But if their is, I dont have to let it tear me apart from the things I love

  • Bobbi Jo July 12, 2011, 8:46 pm

    Simon’s quote about disabled people being labeled and the need to exceed the perceived boundaries will be made into a poster and prominently displayed in my classroom. As a special education teacher of middle school children I find this man so incredibly inspiring. Thank you for introducing him and sharing his story.

  • Bobbi Jo July 12, 2011, 8:46 pm

    Simon’s quote about disabled people being labeled and the need to exceed the perceived boundaries will be made into a poster and prominently displayed in my classroom. As a special education teacher of middle school children I find this man so incredibly inspiring. Thank you for introducing him and sharing his story.

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul July 12, 2011, 8:48 pm

    wow wow Caitlin! You always find the craziest people to interview!! Simon sounds like a great man and I’m so inspired by his attitude! Now, who says we can’t be fit and healthy? If he can have this perseverance after so much tribulation, so can others as well 😀 Thanks girl

  • Baking 'n' Books July 12, 2011, 9:03 pm

    Absolutely incredible. Thank you to Caitlin and Simon for sharing such an amazing story – and life. Hearing what others endure and love – it’s truly, truly inspiring…

    And – he’s got good taste. “Food is Mood”. Love that. More people should just take that simple stance and eat what they enjoy 🙂

  • sarah k. @ the pajama chef July 12, 2011, 9:37 pm

    what an awesome story! thanks for sharing. i had heard about his race and want to go back and re-read his blog now.

  • Cath July 12, 2011, 10:29 pm

    Amazing story. I’ve got to find out what my limits are now! Thanks Caitlin for sharing this story.

    Also, gotta say, GOOD LUCK for your events this weekend! WOOP WOOP! Go Caitlin!

  • Jackie @ That Deep Breath July 13, 2011, 1:15 am

    This is an amazing story. I’m so glad you posted this interview for us! It’s inspirational stories like this that give me the motivation to keep up with my fitness. We need to start thinking of the ability to exercise as a gift rather than a burden.

  • becca (bellebottoms) July 13, 2011, 10:39 am

    so incredible! Just another example of why we shouldn’t take things for granted! My legs getting me down? I should be grateful to have two strong ones! Getting depressed about a bad workout? I should be thankful I have the heart strength and lungs to even complete one! Thanks for the motivation Simon!!

  • Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers July 13, 2011, 10:55 am

    Oh my gosh! So inspirational. Thanks for posting!

  • Amber K July 13, 2011, 12:55 pm

    Such a great story. He rocks!

  • Michelle {Running to win my race} July 13, 2011, 8:47 pm

    Caitlin, Thank you for this! I am tremendously inspired by stories of people beating the odds! I have FSHD (a type of muscular dystrophy). At the moment, it only effects certain muscles in my body, but I have decided not to take it lying down! I became a runner after I was diagnosed 2 years ago. Its my way of fighting, I guess. Anyway, thank you for this post. It reaffirmed to me that people with diabilities don’t have to be limited!

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