Blind runner guide dogs NYC Half Marathon, pacing him along the 13.1 mile course, what we know

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Blind runner information canine NYC Half Marathon, pacing him alongside the 13.1 mile course.

Thomas Panek and his operating information canine Westley, Waffle and Gus made historical past on Sunday within the 2019 New York Metropolis Half Marathon.

Panek, the president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, was the primary blind runner to finish the half marathon with information canine.
His trio of Labrador Retrievers — who took turns pacing him alongside the 13.1 mile course — have been the primary four-legged athletes within the race.
“It’s actually a crew,” Panek stated.
In keeping with the race web site, Panek’s crew completed the race in simply shy of two hours and 21 minutes.

An avid runner, Panek had no intention to surrender the game, even after shedding his eyesight in his early 20s.
Because of volunteer human guides, he has since accomplished 20 marathons. Nonetheless, Panek missed the sensation of independence, which in the end impressed him to start out a proper coaching program for operating information canine.
“It by no means made sense to me to stroll out the door and depart my information canine behind after I like to run and so they like to run,” he stated. “It was only a matter of bucking typical knowledge and saying why not.”
Journey to the end line
In 2015, Panek established the first-of-its-kind “Working Guides” program at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, an authorized nonprofit college in Westchester County, New York that has skilled information canine for the visually impaired for many years.
Twenty-four canine have accomplished this system and one other 12 are midway to commencement. As soon as skilled, Guiding Eyes matches every canine with an applicant and helps practice the brand new crew freed from cost.

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However solely a handful of the canine are minimize out for the Working Guides program, which requires an much more rigorous stage of health and self-discipline. Working outdoors presents a novel problem — the canine should navigate terrain modifications, stairs and curbs all whereas tuning out metropolis distractions and noise.
When it got here time to decide on his crew for the race, Panek turned to the Guiding Eyes’ crew {of professional} trainers, who handpicked sister-brother duo Waffle and Westley, two of probably the most lively canine within the pack.
“The bond is actually vital. You’ll be able to’t simply decide up the harness and go for a run with these canine,” Panek stated. You’re coaching with a crew it doesn’t matter what form of athlete you’re, and also you wish to spend time collectively in that coaching camp.”
They’ve been coaching collectively for a lot of months, rain or shine. Even the arctic blast that gripped New York in January didn’t cease Panek and his canine companions, who took to the Armory Observe.
Race day
The canine set their very own tempo and every tackled a distinct leg of the race. Gus, Panek’s longtime information canine, was chosen to run the ultimate 3.1 miles and retire on the end line in Central Park.
“It’s a bit emotional for me as a result of he’s been there with me the entire time,” Panek stated.

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Panek hopes his 14-legged crew will encourage others with ambulatory and visible disabilities to maintain pushing the bounds of what they assume, or are informed, is feasible.
“Working along with your canine is fantastic and if they will do a job whereas they’re doing it and positive, it occurs to be 13.1 miles via the streets of NY city however we’re going to get it performed. I do know we’ll.”
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