A sport enthusiast who lost her sight ten years ago following a brain haemorrhage and four strokes has managed to complete a triathlon alongside her volunteer guide.
When Alison Mead lost her sight she was worried she may never run again, but after taking part in her first parkrun with guide Roz McGinty in 2014 she began to build her confidence.
Now the pair have completed a sprint triathlon thanks to Join UK.
Alison said: “I have always been active and enjoyed swimming, badminton and table tennis, but sport of any kind no longer seemed an option.
“I have Ted my guide dog but I am single, have few family and usually no help. So I contacted British Triathlon looking for a way to take part in sport again, and they put me in touch with a wonderful woman called Roz McGinty.
“Roz had not had any training as a guide so we just went for a few runs on our own along a path near my house to get used to running together. Guides are often just as nervous as me, maybe even more so when we first run together.
In all the things I have ever volunteered in, it has always been the friendship and enjoyment experienced by everyone involved that has been the most valuableAlison Mead
“In November 2014, Roz guided me at my first parkrun, in St Albans. When I crossed the finish line I remember being really pleased that I had been able to complete the course and I wanted to do another one.
“In all the things I have ever volunteered in, it has always been the friendship and enjoyment experienced by everyone involved that has been the most valuable,” she added.
This September Alison and guide Roz took part in a sprint triathlon.
Alison added: “Without Roz volunteering to guide me on triathlons or any of the disciplines I would not be able to take part in some of the sports I love, and without the team of people who volunteer to guide me when I run at parkrun I couldn’t take part in that.
“My advice to any visually impaired person who wants to try running or volunteering is three simple words – do a parkrun! If you don’t have anyone to guide you, ask your local parkrun if someone is in a position to help. Running helps physically and mentally. It increases confidence. And you will make some wonderful friends.”
Roz said: “Alison loves a challenge and is one tough cookie. Can you imagine swimming in a public pool with other swimmers around and lane ropes to contend with & not being able to see where you are going?! It’s a challenge but we manage it. I have to keep alert and stay at her side and let her bump my shoulder on each stroke with her hand to keep her in a straight line.
“I cannot recommend guiding enough. It is just so rewarding. I used to hate running 5K but these have truly been the best 5Ks I have ever run.
“Parkrun has played an enormous role in ensuring that Alison’s triathlon dream has become a reality. Alison has lots of ideas about the future and events she would love to do if the opportunity arose. I would dearly love to help her make these dreams come true.”