Wednesday 23 January 2019

Donabate woman will guide Karen to the finish line

Karen Kealy with Deborah McArdle
Karen Kealy with Deborah McArdle

John Manning

A runner from Donabate who acts as a sighted running guide for a lady who is blind since birth, has today urged other people to get involved in this activity saying: 'It is the best thing I have ever done.'

Deborah McArdle who is a relative novice to running, says she runs with Karen Kealy, a forty-one-year-old woman from Carlow who only took up the activity this January.

Deborah told the Fingal Independent: 'The first run Karen and I did was in the Phoenix Park and that was it, I got the bug, and so did she.'

Describing the pair's growing friendship, Deborah said: 'She is absolutely super and we are getting ready to do the Women's Mini Marathon for the NCBI on June 3.

'I can't wait as we will have clear roads and just go for it.'

The pair have been busy preparing for that huge event. Deborah said: 'I did the Park Run Guided Running Courses and I would recommend them to anyone.

'I sometimes worry that Karen will bang into something like a bollard or a lamppost, but she just laughs it off saying as a person with sight-loss she is used to banging into things.

'Thankfully it doesn't happen that often. We have a great laugh together and she is talks almost as much as I do, which is some feat!' Deborah says that Karen is doing so well now that she is now surpassing other runners.

The Donabate guide runner said: 'Well, she is flying and if she gets any faster I won't be able to keep up with her. I am the typical slogger to jogger.'

For her part, Karen pays tribute to Deborah and describes her as an 'amazing bubbly person, who has literally run into my life'.

Karen added: 'I can't tell you how much running has transformed my life in a few short months.

'I never ran before and really only started on New Year's Day this year.

'A friend of mine loves running and she gave me the nudge to try it. She actually introduced me to Deborah and I now have a huge new circle of people who are incredible.

'I have already signed up for the Women's Mini Marathon which I will do for the National Council for the Blind of Ireland. I find it exhilarating and when I can do it for an excellent charity like the NCBI which has been in my life forever, all the better.'

Karen, who is a former Bank employee, says she feels running has given her a new purpose in life.

She said: 'I am not working which is difficult but now I have a purpose, I have somewhere to go, and things to chat to people about. I am part of the community and I just love it. I have made great friends and we have such a laugh. Running has been good for my mind, my figure and my social life. My running guides are just the best, they are kind, so generous with their time and great craic too.'

Karen is anxious that other people with sight loss try out guided running saying it could open up a whole new world to many.

She said: 'I am not joking when I say it has totally changed my life for the better, I couldn't recommend it highly enough. Start practising now and you'll be fit for the Women's Mini Marathon.' If you would like to run in the Women's Mini Marathon for NCBI contact collette.mcentee

Fingal Independent