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Story added: 22nd June 2018
Scott Vallance’s Run Norwich will be a big one for a few reasons.
He turns fifty this year, and it will be his first ever run. And awaiting him at the finish line, along with his family, will be his guide dog Benji.
“Benji is my best friend. He’s a six-year-old German Shepherd and an amazing animal. I live on my own, and I’m honoured and privileged to have him in my life.
“He’ll be there supporting with my family while I run, and I’m sure it’ll be an amazing welcome for me when I finish!”
Scott, from North Walsham, is one of four blind runners who have entered Run Norwich this year, and he’ll be completing the course with the assistance of a guide runner on August 5th.
He made the decision to enter Run Norwich, after a couple of years of standing on the sidelines.
“My brother-in-law is the runner of the family. I’ve come and cheered him on at Run Norwich before and loved it. The weather is always fantastic, and the atmosphere, with the music pumping and the crowds cheering – I just always think it’s amazing.
“Last year while watching I thought, why not? What have I got to lose? I turn 50 this year and if I only do it once, let it be now.”
Scott had sight in both eyes, until 25 years ago. He remembers the night that all changed:
“There was no physical pain. I woke up one morning and had no vision in one eye. My retina had detached. I had been diagnosed with a rare genetic eye condition called choroideremia when I was eleven, but it wasn’t until that morning that the effects of the condition hit me.”
After two unsuccessful operations, and a seemingly never ending succession of visits to some of the top eye specialists in the country, the realisation hit Scott that there was nothing that could be done.
“Obviously it was hard at first. I was in my twenties and life was moving fast. But I managed to get over it and not let it bother me.
I just wanted to get on with my life and live it to the full.”
Scott currently has 2% tunnel vision in his left eye, as well as no vision in his right eye
Since he lost his eyesight, Scott has represented England internationally at bowls (he is a current Blind National Outdoors pairs champion, a title he’ll be hoping to defend in July), travelled the world, and is currently an ambassador for the Guide Dogs charity.
Run Norwich is the next step in that journey.
Once Scott had signed up to the race, he was put in touch with the Norfolk & Norwich Association for The Blind (NNBA). They, in turn, introduced him to fellow blind runners Edward Bates, Mark Smith and Michael Wordingham.
The group met up, and quickly developed a bond. They have benefited from the invaluable support and advice of Iain Dawson, a world champion blind paratriathlete based in Norwich.
Encouragement from Iain and the group has helped push Scott with his training, which he admits can be a struggle:
“I’m not an athlete by any means. I’m 6’4 and a big guy, and running doesn’t come naturally for me. But I’ve got a superb team around me, who have all helped me massively.”
In particular, his personal trainer Adam Breeze at Victory Fitness Centre in North Walsham has played a key role in Scott’s training.
“He’s just been brilliant. I’ve spent so much time with him, and will go to the gym three or four times a week.
“But it’s not just him. The girls at the gym reception desk look after Benji while I train. It’s just little things like this, that mean everything to me. There is such a wide support network for me, and without them I couldn’t do it.”
Scott will be running with his guide, Vashti, for the first time in June – and they plan to start off with a number of Park Runs initially.
“Even though it’s just four of us blind runners running on the day with our guides, there is such a big team behind us. We’re all so grateful.
“I’ve done some amazing things in life, and I always try to not let my blindness hold me back. For me, completing Run Norwich on August 5th will reaffirm this.”
"What have I got to lose? I turn 50 this year and if I only do it once, let it be now."
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