G Thing: Running guide dogs help keep visually impaired people fit during social distancing

It's a G Thing
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NEW YORK — Global Running Day is underway and instead of just one day, it’s a weeklong event.

New York Road Runners is challenging you to lace up your shoes and run one mile, wherever you live, with thousands of other participants around the world.

But what if you’re blind? Just heading out your door to run while trying to social distance isn’t that simple. Most need a human guide, that is until now.

Tom Panek made history in 2019 becoming the first blind person to run the New York Half Marathon lead by a relay team of running guide dogs.

Millions of runners have had to change their daily workout habits due to the Coronavirus, but as Tom tells us the visually impaired have been hit particularly hard.

“You can’t social distance with a guide runner, it’s impossible,” he said. “You’re at 18 inches tethered, there’s no six feet there.”

And that’s why Tom’s group “Guiding Eyes for the Blind” has been so instrumental during this time. The New York based non-profit is the only guide dog school with a running program.

“Having the ability to go out and run with a dog is an amazing gift,” he said.

For Tom and so many other visually impaired, it’s about just getting in your daily run.

Tom says the main reason he started this guide dog running program is so that people who are visually impaired can stay active, so far, he has placed 47 dogs with runners.

“Most of our people have one dog. They are going out for about a 6.5 mile run, it keeps them fit, healthy and active.”

Right now, there are 170 dogs in training. If you’d like to find out more about the guide dog running program, head to Guiding Eyes

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