About 15 participants enjoy the social nature of race
Members of the tight-knit group pumped up one another at the starting line.
Shoes were retied last minute as the national anthem played from the speakers. When it finished, the announcer asked blind and visually impaired runners to come forward.
The group made their way up. Crosby, a guide dog for runner Kerry Kuck, stood at the front of the pack. The runners prepared for their starting cue, which was a minute before the rest of the participants tackled the 5-mile route at the annual Cherry Creek Sneak.
“Crosby the dog is going to lead the way,” the announcer barked out to the crowd. Then, the start was signaled. The runners and their guides took off, breaking away down the first stretch.
The Colorado Springs based U.S. Association of Blind Athletes partnered with Achilles Denver, the local chapter of an international organization that gives athletes with disabilities a community of support, and Lending Sight, a Colorado sports club that connects those with good vision with blind or visually impaired runners, to recruit about 15 runners and guides to race Sunday.
For some, the sport is about escaping isolation or exploring freedom. For others, it is a fun form of exercise. Regardless of the motivation, the athletes all expressed a similar theme: Blind runners have a tight community in Denver.
A pair of unlikely training partners — one from a small town in Montana, the other from a village in India — took the first two places Sunday in the Cherry Creek Sneak 10-miler. How Seth Garbett and Kailas Kokare became friends and roommates is an even more improbable story.
Garbett, who won Sunday in 51 minutes, 55 seconds, ran for Montana State after growing up in Darby, a town of 500 near the Montana-Idaho border by the Continental Divide. Kokare, who was second in 54:14, grew up poor in the hills near Mumbai and lost his right hand when he was a year old after placing it in a fire while his mother was distracted.
They met last summer through a mutual friend. When Kokare needed a place to stay, Garbett and his wife invited him to move in with them.