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RNIB 2007 London Marathon place for Mark

Lifestyle | Article

Mark Scales was just sixteen when his eyesight started to deteriorate, changing his life forever.

Sixteen years later, inspired by the London Marathon, Mark, at 32, has recently found a new lease of life and is officially in training for the 2007 London Marathon, with co-runner Paul Brain, both of Corby Athletics Club.

Eighteen months ago, visually impaired Mark moved from London to Corby in Northamptonshire to live with his girlfriend.

Mark Scales with Dave Bailey and running partner

Finding more time on his hands than when busy with various interests in London, Mark got involved with the Oddbods Theatre Group in Kettering, and then went on to train as a Samaritan, both being skills he had previously developed. However, he still felt there was a gap to fill in his life and so decided, with a justified prod from his girlfriend, to fulfil a life long ambition by applying for a marathon place, the very next day following the 2006 Marathon.

In 2007 the Royal National Institute of the Blind has 74 Marathon places, of which just four are being taken up by visually impaired runners. Once he was offered a gold bond place, Mark was asked if he would like to have a co-runner. Initially sceptical, Mark finally agreed and was put in touch with his local athletics club. Mark was fortunate enough to come across Paul Brain, who will now become another marathon novice at the age of 35. There are eight other members from Corby Athletics Club running the 2007 London Marathon.

Members of the athletics club in Corby know Advance Performance well. Mark and Paul were directed there, being told ‘It is a specialist running place which will provide exactly the right shoes for the job’. Mark comments, “They know their stuff alright. After watching my running movement being analysed on video, I could understand why a particular shoe would support my feet and help avoid injuries.” Managing Director of Advance Performance, Samantha Hale, was only to willing to help and has provided running shoes for their London marathon training.

Commencing his first ever physical training in September 2006, Mark says he could only run for a maximum of 15 minutes to begin with. Working out in a gym and starting to train with Paul opened up a new world for him. Mark says, “Paul is very supportive in just the right way, making me believe I can do it. He just gives me the facts I need when describing the terrain we are running on which is ideal. We have developed a safe road strategy and are now good friends. Paul can be a hard task master at times but he knows how far to push me.”

Commenting co-runner Paul Brain said, “Initially tempted to apply as his co-runner in order to obtain a guaranteed marathon place, I have now been working with Mark over the last four months and genuinely getting to know him. It is a team effort and, as novices, we really spur each other along. Mark is tenacious character who sets his mind to a goal and doesn’t stop until he has achieved it. I am learning a lot from Mark and he has made the job easier by being such a strong character.”

In the London Marathon, Mark and Paul are hoping to achieve a time of four and a half hours. They have now done some hill training, increasing their inclines by 10% each time. From early January they have started sometimes running 13 miles in one session, the most that Paul has ever run before. Together they are pacing themselves, running five times a week, following the official London Marathon 12 week training regime.

During their initial training Mark and Paul visited Advance Performance to have their running styles assessed and for Mark to be individually kitted out with the correct shoes. Paul has already a half marathon and has previously sustained injuries from running. Now that he has seen what Advance Performance can offer, he feels confident they will succeed without damaging themselves. Paul comments, “The shoes we are now training in suit the business of running longer distances. We are covering 30 miles a week at the moment which can add up to a lot of stress on the body. Advance Performance is highly regarded by the athletics club and it is well worth the trip to Peterborough. It is a combination of the shoes and the support from both Advance Performance and Corby Athletics Club, which will see us through.”

For Mark, running will continue to be part of his life even after the London Marathon. He wants to keep on running and is committed to competing in smaller races on a regular basis. Whilst he is seen as an ambassador for the blind and many other disabled people, Mark insists that, “Disabilities should not stop anyone from doing anything. It is simply a matter of confidence and determination. There are individuals and organisations out there to help everyone.”

January 2007




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