BOSTON (CBS) - The Boston Athletic Association says there are 100 guided runners registered for this year's Boston Marathon.
A guided runner is someone who gives verbal cues to visually impaired or blind runners and helps them navigate the course.
One of those guides is Taylor Slesinski, who hasn't even met the man she'll be guiding on Monday.
She will meet Peter Field for the first time at the marathon expo Saturday when they pick up their race numbers. Slesinski will be his eyes on race day, alerting him to potholes, curbs and everything in between.
"When we think of someone who has a disability, whether that's a physical disability or some type of impairment, we treat them differently. But at the end of the day, they are still a human being. Just because you can't see, or you can't hear doesn't make you any less or different of a person," Slesinski told WBZ-TV.
And that is exactly why Slesinski is running her second Boston Marathon as a sighted guide and fourth Boston overall. Slesinski, who is 30 years old, started running competitively about 10 years ago and got into guiding after noticing marathon runners wearing "guide" and "blind" bibs.
"That piqued my curiosity, so I started researching and that's when I discovered the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, so I applied to be a sighted guide," she said.
Slesinski is running for MABVI and is on the locally based Booty by Brabants marathon team. She's been training with visually impaired runner Kyle Robidoux using a one-foot tether.
"The tether helps us stay connected. It helps me feel when she's moving left or right and in a crowded race like the Boston Marathon it can also act a cue to ensure that runners don't split between us," Robidoux explained.
Even though the pair are training together, Slesinski will be running Monday with a different visually impaired runner, Peter Field from California. It will be his first Boston Marathon.
"It is a little nerve-racking knowing that I haven't ran specifically with Pete, so I don't know his little cues or what his preference is. Being a sighted guide takes a lot of trust and communication because he's essentially trusting me to call out anything that could cause him to trip or injure himself and for me that's the last thing I want. And so having the confidence to yell out to pedestrians or cyclists on your left or on your right and making sure that you're keeping the athlete safe is probably the most challenging part of it," Slesinski said.
"If I was to wake up one day and be told that I couldn't do something like running, or something I love, I would hope that someone would help me. Even though there's so much bad in this world there's also so much good," Slesinski told WBZ.
You can watch live coverage of the 126th Boston Marathon on WBZ-TV and CBS Boston.com on Monday, April 18, 2022.
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