World Marathon Challenge: Would you be able?
'World Marathon Challenge: Would you be able?' is a sponsored post, in collaboration with Allianz Ireland. I took up running just once – I downloaded the Couch to 5K app and started running three times a week around the Phoenix Park until I developed shin splints and gave up – so it's safe to say that the World Marathon Challenge probably wouldn't be my bag. Which is why I was so incredibly impressed by Sinead Kane, a woman who – with the support of Allianz Ireland – is aiming to become the first visually impaired athlete to complete the World Marathon Challenge. (Follow her journey on the Allianz Ireland blog.)
I thought about how I – with my 20/20 vision and my shin splints and my general laziness and, I'll confess, boredom with running – gave up so easily, and about how Sinead, who was born with just 5% vision, is aiming to run 7 marathons in 7 days across 7 continents as part of the World Marathon Challenge. And honestly? It made me re-evaluate my ideas of "can" and "can't".
Sinead's achievement, mind you, doesn't begin or end with the World Marathon Challenge she's undertaking; Sinead is a solicitor and PhD researcher who's also the first visually impaired Irish athlete to run an ultra marathon. An ultra marathon is any distance longer than a marathon; John O'Regan, pictured above with Sinead, is her guide runner and one of Ireland's foremost ultra marathon runners. Bear in mind, too, that Sinead only took up running in 2012 (around a year after, er, I took it up – and put it right back down again).
Ever since hearing about Sinead and the record she's attempting to break, with support from Allianz Ireland, I've been seeking out everything I can, by and about her; her TED talk on bullying in schools is especially worth watching.
I won't lie – the first question that came to mind when I heard Sinead talking about the World Marathon Challenge on Tubridy (listen back here) was: why? But then, the more I read about Sinead, the more I realised that, for her, the question is more likely to be: why not?
I hope this doesn't sound condescending but, to a fully sighted person, the challenge Sinead is setting for herself can seem insurmountable. Why would you put yourself through this ordeal, when you already have the challenge of having only 5% vision? But then, Sinead answers that herself when she tells Ryan that, while people may be able to see, they sometimes lack vision.
Sinead's vision for herself, then, seems very clear – do whatever you want, however you want it, and if someone tells you that you can't? Just show them that you can. Go that extra mile – or those extra six marathons, as her World Marathon Challenge attempt demonstrates!
I can't guarantee that I'll be running any marathons any time soon (those shin splints, remember?) but I'll most definitely be trying to learn from Sinead's vision – only you know what you are capable of and, even then, it's probably more than you think. Keep up with Sinead's journey on Allianz Ireland's blog and on their Twitter and Facebook pages. More on ultra running: Athletics Ireland.
This is a sponsored post, in collaboration with Allianz Ireland. I will always disclose if a post is sponsored or contains affiliate links; for more, check out my disclaimer.