First Ragnar Relay Ultra Team of All Runners Who Are VI to Compete in Reach the Beach 2016 Through Multi-Org Partnership

Team With A Vision and Team Coastal Athletic Association pose together before a training run together

On September 16-17, the first Ragnar Relay Ultra team comprised entirely of athletes who are visually impaired will compete in the Reebok Ragnar Reach the Beach Relay. Formed through a partnership between the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI), the NH-based nonprofit 2020 Vision Quest, and the Coastal Athletic Association, this team seeks to raise awareness for the abilities of athletes with disabilities everywhere while competing in one of the oldest relay races in the U.S.

The team is comprised of six runners who are visually impaired; they will be matched up with the six runners who comprise Team Coastal Athletic Association to serve as sighted guides. In addition to having to work together to complete the race, as “Ultra” teams they each have half the members as other teams and each runner will therefore have to run twice the distance: between 32-38 total miles over the course of the over-200 mile relay.

The team will be comprised of Hannah DeFelice of Boston, Alison Lynch of New York City; Randy Pierce of Nashua, NH; Kyle Robidoux of Roxbury, MA; Jason Romero of Denver, CO; and Brian Switzer of Easton, MA. Guiding them on Team Coastal Athletic Association will be Scott Heffner of Salisbury, MA; Peter Houde of Somersworth, NH; Keith Levitsky of Brentwood, NH; Kim McCracken of Durham, NH; William McElroy of Portsmouth, NH; and Mark Ryder also of Portsmouth, NH.

Putting this endeavor together was an act of teamwork in itself, spearheaded by Peter Houde, Club President of the Coastal Athletic Association; Randy Pierce, President and Founder of 2020 Vision Quest; and Kyle Robidoux, MABVI’s Director of Volunteer and Support Group Services.

“Putting together an all VI [Visually Impaired] team to run this challenging ultra-relay was a huge task,” says Pierce, “and like in all such things teamwork makes it easier. When Pete Houde and I began talking about the possibility, he thought his running club would make excellent guides and asked if my 2020 Vision Quest team could bring together an entirely blind group of runners.”

Pierce and Houde had previously run together on MABVI’s Team With A Vision at the Boston Marathon, so in forming a team they knew who to reach out to next.

“I’ve had the great fortune to be part of MABVI’s Team With A Vision for a couple of years now,” says Pierce, “and there is no finer collection of VI athletes. A few emails later and we had the foundation of a team ready to savor an epic endurance experience together, while at the same time making a positive and powerful statement about Ability Awareness and the power of working together.”

Adding to the challenge is the fact that none of the Team Coastal Athletic Association runners – aside from Houde himself – have experience as sighted guides. Regardless, they are ready to take on this task.

“A few practice runs will be key!” says Houde.

While each member looks forward to competing in this popular relay, which runs from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to Hampton Beach, they are aware of both the challenge presented and the spirit that their teams represent.

“I’m under no illusion, this is going to be very difficult for us and our guides,” says Pierce, “but all of us will be united in striding towards a purpose, and a big part of that purpose is experiencing the human spirit on display in unity!”

Any runners who are interested in becoming a sighted guide or finding guides for themselves can sign up at unitedinstride.com. United in Stride is an online database created by MABVI to match guides with runners who are visually impaired all across the U.S. and Canada.

###

ABOUT MABVI:
The Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired has been creating opportunities for people with vision loss since 1903. Our experience allows us to forge strong community partnerships to meet the pressing need for high quality services and transform lives. Learn more at mabvi.org.

ABOUT 2020 VISION QUEST:
2020 Vision Quest was founded by Randy Pierce with a mission to lead and inspire students and professionals to reach their peak potential while providing financial support for crucial vision services. 2020 Vision Quest has delivered the message of Ability Awareness to more than 50,000 students in the last six years. Learn more at 2020visionquest.org.

ABOUT THE COASTAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION:
Founded in 1998, the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) is a non-profit organization formed by a group of dedicated runners from the coastal communities of southern Maine and New Hampshire. CAA creates a network of competitive and recreational athletes of all abilities and ages who enjoy running and provides support and encouragement to all levels of athletes for training and races. Learn more at coastalathletic.org.

Contact Us

200 Ivy Street
Brookline, MA 02446
Directions

Newsletter Signup

Submit your email address to receive important MABVI Community newsletters