Killarney Marathon organiser denies excluding blind athlete Sinead Kane

The Lakes of Killarney Marathon organiser has denied any intention to exclude visually-impaired athlete Sinead Kane from the event on May 14.

Speaking to this afternoon Kane said that she had contacted the organiser Alan Ryan to discuss entering the race and had asked if her guide would be charged.

She was told that he would be expected to pay the normal entry fee of €45 as he would be using the facilities on the day - such as the water station and aid station if needed.

In a series of tweets today, Kane said: “So much for inclusion in sport, feeling excluded again having to pay for guide runner in marathon because he will avail of aid station etc.

“Profit before people. So much for inclusion in running races in Ireland . Will the struggle ever end for me as a blind runner???

“It is days like this I just think I should give up running. Why bother if race organisers aren't going to be inclusive!”

Kane said that she and a training colleague both contacted Ryan to outline why they felt the charge was unreasonable.

They explained that the guide runner is there purely to assist the blind athlete. They are not trying to achieve any particular goal themselves and as such would not look for a timing chip, medal or t-shirt.

Kane then received an email from Ryan suggesting that if she was still interested in running the race she should give him a call or mail and they could “take it from there”.

As there was still no concrete offer for her guide to be allowed participate without charge, she decided against entry. Kane stressed that she has entered many running events previously and her guides had never been charged.

“I’m so frustrated by it, and tired of it,” Kane said. “He still hasn't said the guide can go free.

“And still hasn't apologised for wanting to charge my guide in the first place.”

Race organiser Ryan said that blind athletes had run the event previously, but they had simply entered two participants and showed up on the day.

As he hadn’t encountered the situation before, he acknowledged he had initially intended to charge the guide. However, he said he had always been open to negotiation.

“The ball is in her court,” Ryan said. “She took what was a small problem and could have been resolved in minutes, and made more of it.”

Kane said the offer to talk further about the charge was not enough. She told us: "I would have more respect for Alan had he sent an email saying - Sinead your guide can go free. I am sorry that this misunderstanding has happened and I will help you and your guide in any way I can for the race."

Kane is no longer interested in participating in the race, but hopes that in the future organisers of this and other events will accommodate guides for visually-impaired athletes as a matter of course.

“I won’t be doing this race,” she said. “And I hope he learns that it was wrong to try and charge me in the first place.”

"The extras of chip timing, goodie bag and medal is not expected from guide. But common decency of allowing a guide take a bottle of water at a aid station if required should be allowed."

Last year Kane encountered difficulties when she tried to enter the Dublin Women's Mini-Marathon with a male guide. That issue was eventually resolved with the organisers making an exception to their all-female policy in the case of guides.

"I am just tired and worn out from this constant admin type hurdles that I have to get over and other able bodied runners don't have these types of hurdles," she said today.

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