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Blind runner to compete in marathon using new technology

Simon Wheatcroft will attempt to be first blind runner to complete marathon unassisted.

Simon Wheatcroft says he hopes the technology will transform lives.
Simon Wheatcroft says he hopes the technology will transform lives. ITV News

A runner is aiming to be the first blind competitor in the New York City marathon using groundbreaking technology he helped develop.

Simon Wheatcroft, who has a degenerative eye disease and was registered blind at 17, is using a device that will let him know if he gets too close to other runners and warn him of obstacles in his path.

Called Wayband, the technology consists of an arm band that, using GPS, emits small vibrations to guide Mr Wheatcroft left and right.

He'll also wear another device on his chest that will send him alerts of oncoming obstacles.

Mr Wheatcroft said that perfecting the technology caused him to have some bad accidents when out running alone.

"When you can't see where you're running you have to assume the environment is constant," he said. "That has seen me running into burnt out cars that have been left in the middle of the pavement and injuring myself quite badly."

He says he wants to help other blind and partially sighted people and hopes the technology will transform lives.

I'm not doing these things just so I can be the first to do this and the first to do that, what I'm interested in is making sure this technology exists to help everybody.
Simon Wheatcroft

He said that he was "excited, nervous and a little scared" to compete in the marathon on November 5 and said he expects to be overcome with emotion when he crosses the finish line.

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