Blind Runners: Background information when reading Not If I See You First

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Not If I See You First

by Eric Lindstrom

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom X
Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2015, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Nov 2016, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

Blind Runners

This article relates to Not If I See You First

Print Review

"I don't need a saint to run with, just someone willing and able and most of all, fast." When Parker, the main character in Eric Lindstrom's debut novel Not If I See You First, begins to contemplate making the switch from running on her own in an empty field at the crack of dawn to joining the track team, she knows she'll need to find a guide - hopefully someone as fast as she is - who can help her make her way around the track without tripping or running into obstacles.

Henry Wanyoike (left) and his guide, Joseph KibunjaIn the real world, guides also provide an essential service for runners with visual impairments, whether on the track or on the marathon course. At the Paralympic Games - the international sports competition for athletes with physical disabilities - guides (who are tethered to their runner with a short strap) must cue the runners verbally, motivate them, and even help elicit audience support for the athletes. One source likens the experience to running a three-legged race, but really, really fast. It's no wonder that at the 2012 Paralympics, guides of medal-winning visually impaired runners were also awarded medals.

I live in Boston, where the Boston Marathon is among the year's highlights. Some of the most inspiring athletes are those who have visual impairments but run the 26.2-mile course with the aid of a guide. An organization called Team with a Vision helps organize volunteer guides, all experienced marathon runners themselves, to assist runners on the difficult course. Peter Sagal, the host of the popular NPR program, "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me," has run the Boston Marathon as a guide with Team with a Vision. He has spoken positively of the relationship between a blind runner and a guide, the combination of trust and communication that creates an intense bond over the course of the race. In the words of the Team with a Vision website, "'disability' does not mean 'inability.'"

Henry Wanyoike (left) and his guide, Joseph Kibunja. Wanyoike has won numerous running awards. Courtesy of Eryn Vorn from Tokyo

Filed under Medicine, Science and Tech

Article by Norah Piehl

This "beyond the book article" relates to Not If I See You First. It originally ran in January 2016 and has been updated for the November 2016 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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