Visually impaired runner making strides to eliminate diabetes at Sudbury race

A Parry Sound runner with visual impairment will be in Sudbury this weekend for the Sudbury Rocks Race, Run, Walk for Diabetes. Richard Holloway says the date May 13, Mother's Day has special meaning for him, as it was his mother who motivated him 20 years ago to start running.

Richard Holloway says May 13, Mother's Day has special meaning, since his late mother motivate him to run

Richard Holloway of Parry Sound is visually impaired, but that hasn't stopped him from running. Over the past 20 years he has completed almost 60 half and full marathons. He will be in Sudbury on May 13 for the Sudbury Rocks race. (Supplied/Richard Holloway)

It was 20 years ago that Richard Holloway of Parry Sound, Ont., made a promise to his mother to begin training to run a marathon.

He will be doing his 60th half-marathon this weekend when he travels to Sudbury to participate in the Sudbury Rocks! Race, Run, Walk for Diabetes.

In 1998, Holloway's mother, who was on oxygen and preparing for a double lung transplant, motivated her son to become more active.

"She was walking on a treadmill training to get her transplant," the 54-year old Holloway recalls. "She said 'You know if I get my lungs you should train and do a marathon,'" he said.

Holloway says two weeks later, when his mother received her new lungs, he began training for his first race. His mother died two years after that.

"Maybe she had an underlying secret to get me off the couch and get my health in order because she probably knew I was going to get diabetes."

Holloway is registered to run the half-marathon in the Sudbury event, which is scheduled for Sunday, May 13, Mother's Day.

"My lucky number is 13. [The race] is on the 13th, and my mom motivated me to run," he said.

Holloway will be running alongside two guides. That's because Holloway is visually impaired.

"They work as my eyes."
Richard Holloway and one of his guide runners, his wife Anna Holloway. Richard is visually impaired and uses two guides when he runs a road race. (Supplied/Richard Holloway)

He was born with juvenile glaucoma, and has no peripheral vision. He describes his sight as 'tunnel vision'. His eyes are sensitive to the light, and so he wears tinted glasses during daylight.

One guide runs in front of Holloway to acts as a pacer, while the other guide is beside him throughout the race.

"They run beside me and if anybody is cutting me off they'll push them away or ask them nicely to move...the first two times."

Holloway also runs with a sign on his back that says 'visually impaired/blind runner' to notify other participants in the event.

Richard Holloway of Parry Sound wears a sign on his back to let other participants know that he is visually impaired. (Supplied/Richard Holloway)

Diabetes is an issue Holloway wants to raise awareness about. That's because he's had six friends who have died recently due to complications connected to diabetes.

He says he doesn't think people take diabetes seriously, but the illness can affect other things like one's sight, limbs or even someone's heart.

"All these people that I've known...that have passed they just didn't respect [diabetes]. I have a lot of respect for diabetes, because I just don't want to go down that road," he said.

The Sudbury Rocks! race raises awareness and funds for the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Holloway says he's been collecting pledges and has over $250 in donations so far.

Advice for others

"I've always battled weight...I'm a big guy."

Holloway has some advice for anyone who may be interested in starting running or becoming more active.

"Anything is possible, that's the way I look at it," he said.

"It's like lifting weights, running a marathon or climbing a mountain...if you get yourself off the couch you can do almost anything."

About the Author

Angela Gemmill

Journalist

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who has covered news in Sudbury, Ont., for 13 years. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to angela.gemmill@cbc.ca

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