Guiding Others to the Finish Line

Caroline Gaynor, a Dimensional Regional Director and avid triathlete, has made headlines recently for serving as a sighted guide to blind and visually impaired athletes who are competing in long-distance endurance competitions.

With Gaynor’s eyes and experience to guide them, 13 blind and visually impaired athletes have been able to safely complete more than 40 triathlons, including the infamous Ironman World Championship, according to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Ironman Triathlons, which are held on vastly different terrain all over the world, are intense endurance challenges that include a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon run.

While any one part of an Ironman is arduous, the biking portion is particularly grueling for the athletes and their sighted guides because it calls for a tandem bike. Aside from requiring close coordination and intense physicality, tandem bikes have such a reputation for frustration that Gaynor dubs them “divorce-makers.” But the challenge doesn’t stop Gaynor. After helping with numerous triathlons, she took to a tandem bike once more to serve as a sighted partner for a member of Team Sea to See in the Race Across America, an ultra-cycling challenge with a 3,000-mile route from Los Angeles to New York City, according to a feature on Gaynor on CBS News. Along with six teammates, she and her partner finished the daunting course in seven days, 15 hours, and three minutes, the article states.

Gaynor savors the opportunity to test the limits of her own abilities, but believes the most rewarding part of being a sighted guide is sending the message that blind and visually impaired people are as capable as any other athlete. Learn more about Gaynor’s experiences on American Voices with Senator Bill Bradley on SoundCloud.