Rachel's blind optimism for London Marathon
AS A CHILD Rachel Freeman was fascinated by Louise Braille, the inventor of the raised dots touch-alphabet, and American activist Helen Keller, the first woman ever to graduate with a degree despite being deaf-blind.
Now, in her 50th year, Edinburgh woman Rachel Freeman is gearing up to complete the 2018 London Marathon on 22 April in aid of sight loss charity RNIB.
“I don’t have a moving personal story of adversity being defeated through perseverance, or a close relative or friend who is partially sighted or blind,” says Rachel. “My family and I have been blessed with full sight.
“But that doesn’t take away from my interest in supporting the work of groups like RNIB Scotland which help those who are.”
She added: “As a child I had a tremendous interest in Louis Braille – I had a book with the Braille alphabet – and Helen Keller, as it was clear that having disabilities didn’t mean you couldn’t achieve.
“I’ve only been running for four and a half years. I started late. My first marathon was New York in 2016, then Berlin last year. I’m slow but getting faster and I’m keen to take on London.
“I didn’t run for a charity in my first two marathons because I felt a bit awkward about not doing it well enough to warrant anyone’s donations. This is the first marathon I’m confident that I will break five hours and I’m ready to shout about it and raise money for a cause I believe in.”
Rachel, who lives in Edinburgh’s New Town, is an operations director for artificial intelligence company Creative Virtual. London will be her third marathon.
She has been further inspired by the blind and partially sighted runners she meets – and is overtaken by! – doing the same marathons as her.
She said: “I’ve had several blind runners with their guides pass me and I often thought that when I become a stronger runner I could offer to be a run-guide myself.
“I’m working on getting stronger to feel more confident about this.
“I’m not convinced any runner would want me to guide them if my current goal is to break five hours.”
A member of the Edinburgh Running Network at weekends, she strives to run three or four times a week and runs around Canary Wharf when she is in London every few weeks with work. “I’m a pseudo-WILLIE,” she laughs, “’Works in London, Lives in Edinburgh’.
“But it does mean I’m at least familiar with the part of the marathon route in that area.”
Lizzi Wagner, RNIB senior challenge events manager, said: “We’re delighted to have Rachel on Team RNIB and can’t wait to cheer her all the way to the finish line.”