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One blind man’s global vision –   Seven Magnificent Marathons


Seven marathons, seven days, seven continents
Pushing boundaries, living dreams

Inspired by the totally life-transforming independence provided by his guide dog, one blind man is preparing to take on the world; pushing boundaries and living his dream of running ‘Seven Magnificent Marathons’ – seven marathons, on seven continents, in seven days.  His extraordinary challenge is in an effort to raise awareness of visual impairment around the globe and raise funds for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Dave HeeleyThe eyes of the world will be focussing on blind Dave Heeley, ‘Blind Dave’ as he likes to be known, from West Bromwich, in the West Midlands, as he begins the Seven Magnificent Marathons on Monday 7 April 2008.  The first leg of the challenge will take place in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands (Antarctica), followed by six subsequent gruelling legs in Santiago (South America), Los Angeles (North America), Sydney (Australasia), Dubai (Asia), Nairobi (Africa) and London (Europe) – arriving in spectacular style for the Flora London Marathon on Sunday 13 April.

Dave, who will be 50-years-old when he embarks on the challenge, has been registered blind for the past 20 years.  He won’t be able to see the locations, routes and supporters – and will rely on his sighted guide Malcolm Carr to accompany him around the global marathon circuit.  At home, Dave relies on the amazing work of Guide Dogs, the charity that has provided him with life-changing freedom of mobility through guide dog ownership spanning over 10 years with three loyal and dedicated dogs; Peter, Carla and currently Wicksie.

The challenge is far beyond the capabilities of most people, and Dave will need enormous physical and mental stamina to complete his Seven Magnificent Marathons.  The punishing schedule involves running 183.4 miles in a week – 26.2 miles a day – putting incredible strains on his body.  He will need to remain focussed and use every ounce of strength, as he smashes through pain barriers, time zones and jet lag; all factors he will have to overcome as he pushes the boundaries of human endurance to realise his dream.                
                                                                                                                                                            Dave will become the first blind person to complete seven marathons, on seven continents, in seven days.  Only internationally renowned sighted adventurers Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dr Mike Stroud – who are readily supporting Dave – have ever completed this ultimate endurance test.                                                                         

Sir Ranulph Fiennes says: "As one of only two people to have completed seven marathons in seven days on seven continents, I can tell you that it is perhaps the ultimate in physical endurance. Dave's inspirational Seven Magnificent Marathons global challenge for Guide Dogs is made all the more extraordinary by the fact that he’s blind – further pushing the boundaries of human endeavour.

“I wholeheartedly support Dave as he runs the world to raise awareness of visual impairment and celebrate the independence, freedom and confidence that a guide dog provides.”
Dave explains the inspiration behind undertaking this ultimate in endurance: “Around the world, every five seconds, someone loses their sight, and in many countries there are few services or none at all to help them. In the UK alone, 100 people start to lose their sight every day – with many thousands receiving inadequate support in getting their lives back together after experiencing this loss.

“Having suffered sight loss, I know how terrifying life can seem.  I have been fortunate enough to have had my life transformed by Guide Dogs.  That is why I am determined to create awareness of visual impairment around the globe in an effort to improve services for blind and partially sighted people, while also raising money for Guide Dogs. By doing this, I am hoping to make a personal difference to the lives of blind and partially sighted people worldwide by bringing mobility issues to the forefront of people’s minds, and help fund the training of more guide dogs for blind or partially sighted people in the UK.”

Dr Mike Stroud says: "Running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents will push Dave to the absolute limit of his physical endurance - and is a human feat made all the more poignant by the fact that he’s blind.  

“The determination it will take for Dave to run 183.4 miles around the world for Guide Dogs, without the benefit of sight, is inspirational. I applaud his ambition and mission to raise awareness of visual impairment on all seven continents, and am proud to be supporting his Seven Magnificent Marathons global challenge.”

Getting involved: Feel inspired and want to be a part of history? Join Dave at the Flora London Marathon – the final leg of Dave’s Seven Magnificent Marathons – and help him to become the first blind person to complete seven marathons, on seven continents, in seven days. Simply contact the Guide Dogs Events Team on 0845 600 6787, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/london or e-mail: londonmarathon@guidedogs.org.uk

Says Dave: “Having an army of supporters to run alongside me in the Flora London Marathon will make such an enormous difference to my exhausted body and mind, and will help me find that extra bit of strength from within to complete the final leg of the Seven Magnificent Marathons.  I will carry every single person that joins me for the last 26-miles of the challenge in my heart, as I prove to the world that sight loss is no barrier to independence and human achievement.”
Former World Championship and Olympic runner Steve Cram MBE, who will be providing BBC commentary at the Flora London Marathon 2008, says: “Dave, I wish you all the luck in the world as you embark on your most gruelling challenge of seven marathons, in seven days, on seven continents. I can't imagine what the blisters will be like at the end of it all!

“I look forward to commentating on your last leg at the Flora London Marathon 2008 and congratulate you whole heartedly for all you are doing to promote awareness of visual impairment and raise funds for Guide Dogs.”

Find out more about Dave Heeley’s Seven Magnificent Marathons and to donate to his inspirational global challenge visit www.7mm.org.uk