Tara Takes On the London Marathon
A second year Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) student is running the London Marathon to raise money for Blindcare, a charity that supports RNC.
Tara Wheatley, aged 20, from Ruislip, Greater London, is studying A Levels and Sports Coaching at the College.
At age 12, Tara was diagnosed with Stargardt disease. This is a macular, degenerative eye condition which significantly impairs her central vision. And, in turn, impedes on her confidence daily, particularly when running unfamiliar routes.
Typically, she doesn’t run with a guide, however being new to the marathon scene, Tara will be accompanied by running guide, Tim Broome. Participating in any scale of group run can be chaotic and daunting for any low vision runner; Tim will deliver the reassurance, encouragement and verbal cues that Tara requires.
Tara has always enjoyed running but never competitively. However, recognising her potential, RNC Sports Teacher, Anna Robertson, encouraged Tara to take it more seriously.
‘Tara is hugely motivated and takes her running very seriously. I have been coaching her for just over a year now and have seen such big improvements in this time which is down to her determination, dedication and hard work in training sessions.’
The London Marathon has always been an ambition of Tara’s. So, when the opportunity for a place arose, she was thrilled.
In terms of preparation, Tara said:
‘Currently, I’m doing one long run per week with Tim. Along with weekly gym and track sessions with Anna and various other coaches focusing on my speed, rather than endurance.’
‘I’m motivated by the sense of achievement I know I will feel when I cross the finish line; knowing I have conditioned my body to meet such physical demands of the marathon through months of training is empowering. I hope to set an example for other visually impaired athletes like me.’
On the all important question of ‘What time are you aiming for?’ Tara, said:
‘We’re aiming for about 4.5 hours. Not the quickest I’ll admit, however it’s a steady pace for the first of many to come.’
Tara has a target of £2,500 for her London Marathon run. If you would like to donate to her fundraising for Blindcare please visit her fundraising page here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TaraWheatley