Blind woman takes on marathon 7-day challenge

A visually-impaired Cork woman hopes to claim a Guinness World record by becoming the first officially blind person to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

Blind woman takes on marathon 7-day challenge

Sinéad Kane from Youghal, Co Cork, is one of 30 competitors contesting the third annual World Marathon Challenge next week.

The race begins in Antarctica on January 23, followed by South America (Chile), North America (Miami), Africa (Marrakech), Spain (Madrid), Asia (Dubai) and Australia (Sydney).

Temperatures may vary by 50C.

Hereditary factors have left the 31-year-old with just 5% vision but she hopes by gaining the record will “encourage self-belief in people with disabilities and help fight discrimination against the disabled”.

Determined from an early age to defy her disability, Sinéad became Ireland’s first blind solicitor in 2011.

She is currently studying at Dublin City University for a PhD in Teachers Legal Duty of Care regarding bullying inside and outside school. Sinéad will be accompanied by guide runner John O’Regan, a 47-year-old Dubliner with vast experience of international marathon and guide running in all conditions. She will compete against some of the world’s top marathon athletes, despite only taking up running in a 10km fundraiser for the National Education for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 2015.

“I actually feel the main challenge will be psychological,” she says. Last year, Sinéad completed the Volcano Marathon in Chile’s Atacama Desert and the Red Bull in Brazil where she finished 23rd of the 1,412 female participants.

The €36,000 race entry includes chartered connections but not return flights from Dublin. Sinéad’s costs doubled through using a guide runner as did the estimated €4,000 for assorted expenses. She almost abandoned the venture when two companies cancelled sponsorship talks, citing Brexit complications. However, Allianz Ireland stepped in to meet her race fee while race director Richard Donovan allowed John complimentary entry. Any surplus funds following a short campaign will go towards Irish guide dogs.

Her condition, aniridia, registers excessive light, perhaps necessitating a blindfold for the Antarctica snow.

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