Blind runner completes 210-kilometer footrace
Finding hope amid the ugly realities of life is an elixir that makes people immortaly inspired.
Such is the case of long distance runner Mark Joseph Casidsid who has been chasing runners he couldn’t see and navigating terrains made invisible by his … blindness.
Over the weekend, the 33-year old Casidsid was again a beacon of inspiration when he finished in 16th place in the Cebu Southwest 210-kilometer Ultramarathon which started in the town of Santander and ended in Plaza Independencia, Cebu City
Playing a major role in Casidsid’s inspiring feat is his guide, Jonjon Alegre who served as the blind runner’s eyes, guiding the former through verbal command.
“Verbal command po. Yung trajectory whether left or right. Yung speed ko, nakatrajectory ‘yun. Kung may lubak or humps or obstacles along the way, sinasabi niya,” reveaaled Casidsid who clocked 46 hours and 32 minutes in the lung-busting race.
Although veteran ultramarathoner Bayani Alvarez topped the event in 26 hours and 19 minutes, Casidsid provided the most dramatic twist to the race when he beat the cut-off time of 48 hours, something which nine, more able-bodied rivals failed to do.
Casidsid was born premature and as a result suffered retinopathy of prematurity, a condition where abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina causing eventual blindness.
When Casidsid turned 19 in 2003, he completely lost his sight. It was a time he considered his darkest and lowest, where he contemplated ending his existence.
But the Novaliches, Quezon City native found light at the end of the tunnel through running.
“Gusto ko lang talaga ma explore ang outdoor. Noong time pa na hindi pa ako bulag mahilig ako sa outdoor. Nagsimula ako sa running in 2011 when I met my life and running coach Gado Pelingo. Siya yung nagpapamotivate sa akin,” said Casidsid.
Prior to last Sunday’s race, Casidsid also vied in the 42 km category of the 2012 Milo Marathon Manila leg but considers the Cebu Southwest run as the longest and toughest he competed in.
“Actually ang nasa isip ko lang ay mag enjoy, ang lahat ng mga natutunan ko about running since 2011 ginagawa ko dun kasi yun ang pinakahaba na race na nasalihan ko. Sa tingin ko kailangan mo lang talagang imotivate ang sarili mo at itry na lumabas sa comfort zone at maghanap ng tao na tutulong sayo,” he shared.
Casidsid may have lost his eyesight. But behind those unseeing balls of grey, the desire to put more meaning to a life denied the gift of sight burns brighter than the darkest abyss his blindness may have thrown at him.
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