Blind Man Finishes New York City Half Marathon With Help From Guide Dogs

March 19, 2019

Thomas Panek has has always been an avid runner, however, he made history on Sunday at the New York City Half Marathon.

While visually impaired competitors usually use human guides, Panek became the first person to complete the race supported by guide dogs.

His trio of Labrador Retrievers, who took turns pacing him along the 13.1 mile course, were the first canine athletes to compete in the race.

The team finished just shy of two hours and 21 minutes.

 

Panek, who lost his eyesight in his early 20s, said that while he appreciated the support of human volunteers, he missed the feeling of independence.

"It never made sense to me to walk out the door and leave my guide dog behind when I love to run and they love to run," Panek told CNN. "It was just a matter of bucking conventional wisdom and saying why not."

Panek says he hopes his accomplishment will inspire others with visual disabilities to keep pushing the bounds of what they think are possible.

"Running with your dog is wonderful and if they can do a job while they're doing it and sure, it happens to be 13.1 miles through the streets of New York city but we're going to get it done. I know we will."

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