Solihull man takes on Great Birmingham Run despite visual impairment.
Mark Sanders, 38, from Solihull, has signed up for the Morrisons Great Birmingham Run alongside friend Andy Harbrow, 47, in order to raise money for charity Guide Dogs.
Mark suffers from a genetic form of macular degeneration, which has caused a gradual loss of vision. Andy, a London-based pharmacist, will be guide-running the half marathon alongside him.
Andy took part in the event last year to raise funds for the charity whilst Mark was going through the necessary procedure to obtain a guide dog. He raised £500 for the charity.
Mark received Lilibet, a black Labrador, in April 2015 and she has greatly improved his mobility, mental state and quality of life. “After he completed the run last year, Andy challenged me to take part with him this year. I’d never run before, so it was a challenge,” Mark said.
The two friends experienced guide-running together for the first time on 4th July when they ran a 10k together around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. They completed the run in under an hour.
Mark trains regularly with Knowle and Dorridge Running Club and goes guide-running every week. “I just want to say thanks to the club for guide-running me and for all their support. And of course thanks to Andy for all his help and encouragement. Hopefully we can do it in a decent time!” Mark added.
While Mark has little running experience, Andy has taken part in total of four marathons, as well as several shorter running events.
“I chose to raise money for Guide Dogs last year because of Mark’s plight to get his own guide dog and I really wanted to support him and the charity. He’s truly an inspiration to me and I’m really glad we will be taking part in this run together,” Andy concluded.
Mark and Andy are hoping to raise in excess of £1,000 for the charity. Robert Jinks, Community Engagement Officer for Guide Dogs, added: “Guide Dogs receive no government funding so it is through the efforts of fundraisers like Mark that we are able to provide our life changing service. We are extremely grateful to Mark and Andy for their valued support.”