The Boston Athletic Association and the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired have announced that this year’s Boston Marathon will have more blind and visually impaired athletes than any other marathon in the United States.
Most are running in the Visually Impaired Division, one of just a handful of such divisions in the nation. Many of the runners in this division, along with their guides, are running as part of Team With A Vision for the MABVI.
“We are honored to set a standard for visually impaired runners in the running community,” said Tom Grilk, Executive Director of the Boston Athletic Association. “These tremendous runners are a tribute to the great spirit and determination that have defined the Boston Marathon since its beginning.”
According to the BAA, 63 visually impaired runners are entered this year, 45 male and 18 female. Fifty-five are qualified runners and eight are entered on invitations (charitable organizations and non-profits). Of that total, 20 are registered as first-time Boston Marathon participants, and 19 are entered through deferments from 2013 because they were unable to cross the finish line. In 2013, 40 visually impaired runners were registered.
One visually impaired runner, Aaron Scheidies of Seattle, won the Boston Marathon Men’s VI Division the last two years, and is a seven-time triathlon World Champion and eight-time National Champion. He is training to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. He was the top male visually impaired runner last year, and this will be his third Boston Marathon.
"As a visually impaired athlete I am thrilled to be returning to Boston to compete in the largest visually impaired race in the U.S.,” Scheidies said. “The growing visually impaired field at the Boston Marathon is a true testament to the B.A.A.'s support and commitment to athletes of all abilities."
"We're inspired that more blind and visually impaired athletes will be running in this year's Boston Marathon than in any other marathon in the U.S.,” said Barbara Salisbury, CEO of Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “This is the perfect example of what our programs are all about. With the right assistance, people who are visually impaired can do anything."