Richardson is first blind man to run 10k on St. Maarten

POSTED: 10/22/14 10:08 PM

St. Maarten / By Milton Pieters – Hyacinth Richardson who is visually impaired has joined the long list of persons that have turned adversity into opportunity and he was able to display that when he participated in the 10kilometer leg of the 31 Guardian Run (Formerly Fatum Loop).

In the starting lineup, there was no official announcement of his presence, he was just another athlete but the only thing that made him stand out was the short cord that connected him to another runner whose job was to guide him.

Richardson, a native of St Maarten who resides in Holland, said that running is something he has been doing for the past 14 years, but it has been over 45 years since he lost the ability to see. “I have to do this just to keep the bones from getting rusty,” Richardson said during an exclusive interview with the Today Sports Desk after the race.

However, running on St Maarten for the first time did pose a few challenges for the seasoned runner as he pointed out. “In Holland, it’s cooler and I don’t have to run on hills, but here it’s different,” he said while taking a few seconds to gasp on some fresh air.

But just like any other athlete, Richardson also did some training prior to his participation in the Guardian Run. “In my last run before this race, I ran for 90 minutes,” he said. Just in case anyone is wondering how he managed to run a 10k, they are in for a big surprise. “My fastest time in a 10k is 48 minutes, but I normally run marathons, my last one was in a place called Snake, in Holland.”

But being visually impaired comes with a degree of dependency in any event and there are a number of factors that had to be taken into consideration. First of all, Richardson had to get a running partner that could keep up with his pace. For that event, he was able to get Shannon Richardson as his running mate and they were connected by a short piece of cord in a technique called tethering. The task of the running guide is to keep slightly ahead at all times while keeping himself between the runner and traffic.

The guide also helps in the exercise by uttering verbal commands in the cases of direction change, bumps and in cases of emergencies. From experience, Richardson was able simple know what to do if he felt a slight pull or push in any direction. According to Richardson, he sees himself as a source of inspiration, but not only to the visually impaired, for everybody. “I want people to get off that couch and get into action,” he stated. Ironically, running was not Richardson’s first passion.

He did Judo for the better part of three years and those motivations came through conversations with close friends. “ I was encouraged by a friend to start running and I learned to do so by running behind my girlfriend on a bike. For me it’s the best way to stay in shape.”

Because of his willingness to be competitive and live a healthy lifestyle, Richardson has no problems when it comes to getting running partners and guides. Now he is a source of inspiration for others to follow and from the way he is performing, he too has no plans on quitting soon.


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