A PROJECT to get visually-impaired people taking part in running events has been launched in conjunction with six regional Parkruns.

The first of Tiptree Road Runner Gary Perryman's six test runs took place in Colchester last weekend.

The Run/Walk in the Park VI group, which is part of the developing Colchester VI Running Network, included five visually-impaired runners who ran side by side with a sighted guide in Castle Park, alongside the hundreds of others doing the free weekly run.

More test runs will follow in Mersea, Clacton, Harwich, Maldon and Great Cornard, in Suffolk, which will also include walking.


Gareth Gailey with VI runner Wali Mohammad Khail 

Gary, of Great Horkesley, said: “The launch was a success and the plan is for the group to appear weekly, rotating between the six Parkruns.

"The aim is to promote socialising as much as exercise and general wellbeing.

"The test run participants enjoyed the atmosphere in Castle Park and a post-run gathering in a nearby cafe.

"It also gives people the chance to become a sighted guide, either just at Parkruns, or on a more formal basis where they become licensed and are added to a Find-a-Guide database."

The five people guided around the course ranged from age nine to 63-years-old.

Jolene Clark was helped by first-time guide, councillor and former mayor Theresa Higgins, while Samantha Leftwich was accompanied by her guide and mum Linda Millar.

Gary joined with Guy Barlow, who has now completed 13 Parkruns, having previously quit running following a brain tumour which led to his sight loss.

Nine-year-old Cameron Clark was partnered by licensed guide Jennifer Wright of Ipswich JAFFA running club.

Quickest of the visually-impaired quintet was Wali Mohammad Khail, guided by Team2gether founder Gareth Gailey from Colchester.

Gary added: "Team2gether is a running group aimed at tackling mental health issues through running, fitness, and talking.

"Wali and Gareth are in training to run the London Marathon together in April."

Visually-impaired people interested in running with the group or if you would like to become a sighted guide, email Gary at garyperryman1@hotmail.co.uk.