1-7th June – Volunteers’ Week: Guide Runner Colin Johnson
As part of National Volunteers’ Week, from the 1st to the 7th June, we will be celebrating the fantastic work of our volunteers within the Athletics and Running community whose dedication, commitment and enthusiasm make the sport happen! On each day throughout the week, we will be recognising an everyday hero who has made a huge impact in Athletics/ Running within their local area, club, region or community group.
It’s day two, and we will be focusing on the fantastic work of Colin Johnson, a guide runner who has gone on to set up his own Visually Impaired Running Group in Bristol delivering a regular Couch to 5k session, supported by 24 other local guides.
Colin Johnson – Guide Runner
“My most memorable experience is being Chris’ guide in the Budapest marathon, which was his first marathon. We got to mile 24 and I said to him, we have got this in the bag, only 2 miles to go. I remember looking over to him and seeing tears streaming down his face”
Having seen a friend’s post on social media about a visually impaired runner who wanted to take part in a marathon, Colin thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved and give something back to the sport he loved, “I love the sport and all the good things it does for me, as well as the social interaction I have with other people, and I wanted to help someone else appreciate and enjoy this too!”
Colin had been running for 15 years before he decided to join Westbury Harriers to develop and improve his own speed, where he then went on to qualify as Run Leader and help the club deliver various sessions. Since making contact with Chris and offering to be his guide, Colin has gone on to set up his own Visually Impaired Running Group in Bristol, offering a regular Couch to 5K session, which is supported by 24 other local guides.
Helping people to achieve their running targets is one of the main things that Colin enjoys about this role, “It gives me a really warm glow and huge satisfaction in helping people run and reach their targets and goals” Guide running also forms part of Colin’s own training schedule so doesn’t get in the way of his other commitments and his own individual goals and targets. “I find it important to get family and friends involved so they can see and understand the joy that guiding brings to both me and the visually impaired runners. Also, you shouldn’t feel guilty about saying ‘no’ if you can’t commit to something.”
Colin’s role as a guide runner has helped him to develop much more of an appreciation about blindness & what it means for individuals, as well as the effect it can have on their mental well-being. Being a Guide Runner has also helped him develop much more an awareness of his surroundings & whether certain environments are appropriate for visually impaired runners