Blind triathlete participates in Ironman in Galveston

Brandon is blind, and is being escorted through the Ironman competition by Justin. This picture is of them in transition from swimming to bicycling. (John Mizwa)
April 2, 2012 9:19:34 AM PDT
On Sunday, April 1, 2012 I had the opportunity to guide Brandon Adame, a blind athlete from Houston, through his second half Ironman competition in Galveston, Texas. Brandon is truly an inspiration to many out there.

At one point in transition Brandon had a crowd around him larger than Lance Armstrong. I'm sure many of you are asking how a blind or visually impaired athlete can compete in an Ironman Triathlon, and I say, just like you and I, but with a little assistance.

It all starts with the swim. We are tethered together with a rope. Brandon swims behind me. When we get out of the water he will hold onto my arm or shoulder and I will guide him into transition where we will get our stuff on for the 56 mile bike. Basically, I hand him his socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses, etc.

From there he will hold onto his seat of the tandem bike and we will head out. Getting on the bike is a little tricky. All the athletes are a little different. Brandon likes to clip in first then I push off and we are on the way.

Once we wrap up the bike we head back into transition where we put on our running shoes and head out on the run. Again, we use a rope, or in Brandon's case a large elastic band, so we can stay together.

This is where the guide has to really pay attention to every little detail out on the road. A crack in the street, a speed bump, a change in texture, a cone in the middle of the street -- any of it can throw someone without vision for a loop. All things we normally dismiss, you have to let them know.

I have been guiding for about three years now and have guided two Ironman events, one full and one half. It's always a pleasure to help another individual accomplish a goal they wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

If you would like to find out more information on guiding you can go to www.cdifferent.org

Justin Sternberg is a triathlete and marathoner, and a Special Projects Producer at ABC13.


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