NEW YORK (PIX11) — Francesco Magisano doesn’t need to see the finish line of the TCS New York City Marathon to know he’ll cross it on Sunday.
Magisano is blind and competes in marathons and triathletes with the help of guides.
“I was diagnosed with eye cancer as a baby, and now I have zero vision,” said Magisano.
He has completed marathons and triathlons for the last six years since being introduced to Achilles International, a running organization for people with disabilities. Magisano now works for Achilles International as its NYC metro region director.
“Trying to run first as a blind person is very scary because you’re basically trusting the guide that you’re with to not run you into anything,” said Magisano. “It’s basically trust falling for miles and miles and miles.”
The 28-year-old will run Sunday’s marathon with two guides: one to keep his path clear and a second — tethered to his side — to give verbal cues.
“It’s basically like a secret service detail around you. They keep athletes safe,” said Magisano.
Marissa Holl, a guide for Achilles International, keeps an eye out for obstacles along the course.
“[You’re] looking for things like potholes in the ground or even cups in a race, saying ‘left’ or ‘right’ or if they need to lift up their knees,” said Holl.
For Sunday’s race, Magisano will be tethered to Nev Schulman, the host of MTV’s popular reality show “Catfish” and a marathon runner himself.
“It’s brought a whole new level of satisfaction and fulfillment to running for me,” said Schulman. “I’m always excited for the marathon, but I think I’m more excited than I’ve ever been for this one.”
Magisano is excited, too. He said running has changed his life, and he encourages other people with disabilities to try it.
“Movement lets you reframe what you think is possible,” said Magisano. “Especially for the disabled community, where what you think is possible defines you so much that it becomes really life-changing.”