Dave Heeley has been blind for most of his adult life but that never stopped the 59-year-old from tackling many daring challenges and next month he will attempt a unique double in the inaugural Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run.
While thousands of competitors will run either the 10k or the half marathon, Blind Dave, as he likes to be known, will run in both races.
It’s all part of the inspirational West Midlands man’s remarkable plan to take part in all 25 of the 2017 Great Run series events in the lead up to his 60th birthday later this year. An avid West Bromwich Albion fan, Blind Dave also aims to raise a significant amount of money for the Albion Foundation, a charity which supports blind football and disability sport in general, as well as providing help for children from under-privileged backgrounds.
Aberdeen will be the 14th venue on Dave's tour and is the most northerly of his Great Run appearances in Britain, while the Great South Run in Portsmouth is the most southerly one. He does, however, also intend to travel much further afield to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run in November.
Blind Dave started his Great Run adventure in Edinburgh and has already competed in the 10k and half marathon at the Great Manchester Run in May and he intends doing the half marathon and marathon at the Great Birmingham Run in October.
Dave said: “I’ve lost count of how many marathons and other races I’ve completed. I’ve now done the Great North Run 15 years in a row and for a long time I had spoken about trying to do all the Great Runs. When I was thinking about something to do for my 60th birthday year it seemed appropriate that this would be the time to go for it."
On visiting the Granite City, he commented: “I’m looking forward to running in Aberdeen. I’ve been there before because we have a great aunt who stays in the area and I know it’s a lovely city. I enjoy running in different places and although I’m blind, my guide runners are very good at describing the various landmarks along the way. I reckon I’ve worn out most of my guide runners over the years but I have two guys who regularly guide for me nowadays, Tony Ellis and Garry Wells, and they are brilliant. I get great memories from their words.
“I don’t really set out with any particular target time in mind for my races these days but it’s amazing how, when I pin that race number on my chest, I get inspired and the competitive edge comes out.”
To sign up for the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run visit the Great Run website.
To support Blind Dave’s charity go to his Just Giving page.