Blind Dave completes first leg of marathon quest
A 50-year-old blind West Bromwich man’s attempt to run seven marathons on seven continents in just seven days got off to a flying start today.
By 4.30am UK time Dave Heeley had completed his first marathon in the Falklands Islands, for the Antartica leg - and by this afternoon he had his running shoes back on for another 26.2 miles in Rio de Janeiro.
Mr Heeley, known as Blind Dave, hopes to become the first visually-impaired person to complete the Seven Magnificent Marathons challenge and raise £1 million for Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
A Tornado fly-past marked the beginning of the record-breaking attempt as Dave and his sighted guide Malcolm Carr started their run at Mount Pleasant military compound on the Falkland Islands.
When they are running the men are attached at the wrist by a cord, and Mr Carr provides Mr Heeley with a running commentary of the environment pointing out potential dangers such as pot holes.
After completing the floodlit Falklands run the pair boarded a private jet for Brazil, where they embarked on the second marathon at about 2.30pm UK time.
The third leg will take place at the world famous Rose Bowl stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday, before further runs in Sydney, Dubai and Tunisia.
For the final leg of the seven continent challenge Dave will join thousands of competitors taking part in the London Marathon on Sunday.
You can keep fully up to date with Dave and Malcolm's progress at their website.
Mr Heeley, who has been visually impaired since birth, was a keen runner as a child but had to give up the sport when he was 16 as his sight deteriorated due to retinitis pigmentosa. He was registered blind in 1986, and has been supplied with three guide dogs by the charity.
He said his life was transformed by the work of the guide dogs charity. "Having suffered sight loss, I know how terrifying life can seem. I have been fortunate enough to have had my life transformed by guide dog ownership," he said.
"I have gone from being too nervous to step outside my own front door to taking on the challenge of running a marathon on every continent on the globe – and that is all thanks to Guide Dogs."
The father-of-three said he was inspired to take on the 183.4 mile challenge by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes who became the first man to complete the gruelling world-wide run in 2003.