Group leader in the Wirral goes extra mile to support blind runner


Here at Run England we are constantly striving to support disabled people in getting running, and one running group leader in the Wirral has encapsulated everything we’re about in the way she has welcomed everyone into her group.

Fiona Hanik is the group leader at the Run in Wirral group. Three years ago she received a call from Dorothy Murphy who, being blind, never thought she’d have the opportunity to even run for a bus, let alone a half marathon. But after being inspired by a story about the Run in Wirral group in her local newspaper, Dorothy decided to give running a go and got on the phone to Fiona.

“The fact that Run in Wirral was described in the article a beginner’s running group for all ages, sizes and abilities really made me feel like I should at least try,” Dorothy said.

The rest is history, as they say. Despite never having guided a blind runner before, Fiona welcomed Dorothy into her group and recommended Dorothy attend her Saturday morning session that takes part in a park because the roads and pathways are smooth, flat and quieter.

With Fiona’s help, Dorothy steadily built her confidence up and through trial and error found a progressive system that worked for them, and the pair are now great friends. Dorothy, who could run for no longer than a minute at first, was reassured that by alternating running and walking it would get easier.

Fiona even scheduled an extra run during the week with Dorothy, who said: “I couldn't believe how supportive and encouraging she was, it’s like she wanted me to achieve this just as much as me and could recognise my ability to achieve it, when I just wasn't very convinced.”

Dorothy has lost more than three stone in weight, made some great friends and last year completed the Bupa Great North Run with the help of Fiona and in her own words “loved every minute of it!”

Three months ago Dorothy moved to Toronto, Canada, and promised Fiona that she would find a group over there to run with. At first Dorothy found it hard to find another beginner’s group like the Run England one she used to run with. However, she was amazed to hear Fiona confess recently that she had sent off some emails on her behalf which has now resulted in Dorothy finding a group that encourages disabled people to use running to overcome their disability. She is due to go on her first run on Saturday morning!

Click here for more information on becoming a guide runner or if you are visually impaired and looking for a guide runner.

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