Waterloo Marathon adds separate category for vision-impaired runners
St. John's Ambulance adds separate category for blind athletes to mark 20-year anniversary
"Making sure that visually impaired runners can be a part of our race is one small step towards increasing awareness of our need as a society to include people of all abilities," said Tony Lee, the race director of the event.
She said the new category will now allow visually impaired athletes to have more space to run and compete.
"We need our space, but we're still included in the sport and the event itself, which is important for raising the inclusion and calibre in sport for people with disabilities," she said.
She said people with vision loss often lack the resources and knowledge to even begin participating in sport.
Achilles Canada, the organization Parke works with, tries to solve that problem by providing people with the right resources and a guide to encourage them to participate in sporting events.
Jason Dunkerley is blind and a five-time Paralympian and medalist from Ottawa. At the Waterloo marathon, he said there is still a lack of awareness of how visually impaired athletes can participate in races.
"Having a distinct category recognizes there's a place for blind and vision impaired runners at these types of races," he said.
Approximately 500 runners participated in the Waterloo marathon and half-marathon this year. Among them, one runner, Pamela Haskell, competed in the visually impaired category.
With files from Emily Fearon