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I Made a Blind Man Run Blind!

Wednesday May 20 2015 11:11 AM


I’ve failed so many times in my life. Actually the reason I have been so successful in the past is because I’ve failed so many damn times.. I fail all over the place.. But the difference between me and other people is that I keep getting back up and moving forward. 
















Most people think failure is the end. I disagree. Failure is only the beginning - failure is a gift.. Let me tell you why..

I was about 20 years old and my mate John Domandl asked me to do the Gold Coast marathon. If you don’t know Johnny, he only has 15% vision and has had a massively successful career as a professional and semi-professional para-athlete. You should look him up! An incredible human being!

Back then, I was incredibly cocky. Because I'd gone to Nationals in high school for cross country, I thought running a marathon would be a pice of cake! Long story short, I barley trained, I think I did maybe 1 x 25-30km run leading up to the event (A pathetic amount of training by anyone’s standards).

So, fast forward to the race. the adrenaline is pumping, we’re at the start line and they’ve put us directly behind the elite runners! I’m talking the Kenyans, Ethiopians, Russians etc. these guys are the elite of the elite so as you can imagine - we're PUMPED! I’m practically fist pumping for the first 1km! And we made the front page of the Gold Coast Bulletin! 

We were so pumped, that we ran the first 21km of the marathon in 1hr47min (which for us was Quick!!). I was on top of the world, waving to the crowd, gliding along.. It’s amazing how quickly things can go from great to disastrous because let me tell you, that’s exactly what happened. 

I started to struggle big time between 25km and 29km and by the time we hit 30km, every muscle in my whole lower body cramped! In runners terms, I had hit the wall! I couldn’t go on any further at the pace we were running. I had to let Johnny follow the pace setters (with the colourful balloons) for the remaining 12km of the race. I practically had to let a blind man run 12km blind without any help and support from anyone. It was one of the most disappointing moments of my life. I’d failed miserably, or so I thought..

I ended up finishing the race but it was the hardest 12km of my life. I had mums with kids in their prams running past smiling at me, 70yr old guys patting me on the back. To say it was pretty embarrassing was an under-statement (which is not to say mums in prams and 70 yr old guys aren't fit - they were).

After the race I felt like a complete failure, especially when I heard that Johnny didn’t reach his goal of sub 4hours (which we were on pace to do) partially because he fell over and hurt himself. I was miserable. For someone that has always achieved things in their life, this experience was disappointing for me. I couldn’t look Johnny in the eyes (not that he would have known), I was sick to my stomach and just plain miserable. 


(Me after the marathon absoloutely wrecked)

Now at this point, I could have made a decision to give up and never run a marathon again as most people do when they fail at something in life. I could have made the decision to never run with Johnny again in fear of letting him down. But.. I made a decision that I was going to make amens for this experience. I made a decision that I would never let Johnny down again and that I was going to do even more events with him to make up for it! 

I turned my failures into lessons..

1) I wasn’t prepared physically so I put in the proper hours and trained smart
2) I had no clue about nutrition during the race so I contacted one of the most successful coaches in the world and learnt pre,during and post endurance race nutrition
3) We peaked too early in the run so I trained my body to start easy and build up my pace through races. 

Since that marathon, I've done 2 Charity Bike Rides (180km & 240km), 4 Tough Mudders, 2 Spartan Races, 2 Half Marathons, 3 Half Ironmans & 1 Full Ironman. 7 of these events I’ve done with Johnny and I’ve never let him down. 

He just became the first visually impaired person in the world to complete an Ultra-man! That’s a 10km swim, 420km bike ride and 84km run done over 3 days! He just keeps going from strength to strength! 

(Johnny & our team after the Ultraman)

Our goal for this year is to qualify in his age group (not as a visually impaired athlete!!) for the Half Ironman World Championships in 2016! 

So what can you learn from my experience?

Failure is a blessing if you allow yourself to learn from your mistakes. Character is built through failure because you must have the courage to get back up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. If you turn your failures into lessons, then nothing will stop you from achieving your goals! 

Remember to Create the Ripple Effect! 

Yours in Health & Fitness,

Dale White
Head Trainer & Exercise Scientist
Ripple Fitness