Ultramarathoner Mike Wardian Joins Local Celebrities In Fifth Annual Blindfold Challenge

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Mike Wardian, a world-renowned marathoner, ultra marathoner, and World Record setter, is among this year's celebrity runners in the 5th Annual Blindfold Challenge within the Boston Athletic Association 5K on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Runners in the challenge raise money and awareness to support local blindness organizations—the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI), National Braille Press, and Perkins School for the Blind.

Picture of Mike Wardian
I will be blindfolded and have a super fast sighted guide to get a small sample of what these incredible athletes experience on a daily basis. I am humbled by the opportunity.

On Saturday, April 16, 2016, the Boston Athletic Association will host the fifth annual Blindfold Challenge within its B.A.A. 5K to support local blindness organizations—the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI), National Braille Press, and Perkins School for the Blind. The field always includes a number of local celebrities, and joining this year’s field will be Mike Wardian, a world-renowned marathoner, ultra marathoner, and World Record setter.

On race day, teams of runners, comprised of one blindfolded member and one serving as a sighted guide, will participate in the Blindfold Challenge at the B.A.A. 5K alongside the other race participants in the 10,000-runner field. Each team commits to raising a minimum of $1,000 to benefit participating non-profit organizations.

Wardian, who should be in serious contention for a first-place finish among the blindfolded runners, was the IAU Ultra Runner of the Year in 2010, and is a four-time USATF Ultra Runner of the Year. He also won the 2014 USATF Master’s Athlete of the Year for both Roads and Trails. He has had a growing cadre of followers of his exploits, including setting the World Record for the fastest 50K on a treadmill, the fastest marathon and also 50K on an indoor 200-meter track, running two marathons in one day, and setting a world record for the fastest time running a marathon dressed as superhero. Wardian has run the Ultra Trail du Mount Blanc, approximately 100 miles with 28,000 feet of vertical assent traveling through 3 countries; the UVU North Pole Marathon, with temperatures dipping below minus 40 Celsius; the Buff Epic Run in Pyrenees, Spain, with over 9000 meters of ascent; and the Diagonale des Fous (Crossing of the Fools), 100 miles with over 32,000 feet of ascent, on Reunion Island. He has also participated in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Men's Marathon, recording a personal best of 2:17:49.

So how would such an accomplished athlete feel about running a 5K?

“I am so stoked to be running the B.A.A. 5K to help raise awareness of vision impaired athletes, and to be working with Team with a Vision and MABVI,” Wardian says. “I will be blindfolded and have a super fast sighted guide to get a small sample of what these incredible athletes experience on a daily basis. I am humbled by the opportunity.”

Joining Wardian are local media celebrity blindfold runners Susan Tran from WHDH, Bob Halloran from WCVB, and David Brown of MABVI (and formerly of WCVB). Both Halloran and Brown will be guided by their daughters. All four are participating in their first Blindfold Challenge.

The B.A.A.’s inclusion of the Blindfold Challenge in the B.A.A. 5K will bring awareness and resources to essential efforts to give children and adults who are blind or visually impaired the power to live more independently. In the Challenge, runners are connected by a two-foot tether and will run the same course, at the same time, and under the same circumstances as the other runners in the 3.1-mile event. Prior to the event, the pair attends a training session not only to prepare for the race, but also to heighten their awareness of the capabilities of all people when given the proper tools.

Proceeds from the Blindfold Challenge benefit three groups that support the blind and visually impaired: MABVI, National Braille Press, and Perkins School for the Blind.

Learn more at blindfoldchallenge.org.

ABOUT BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION (B.A.A.)

Established in 1887, the Boston Athletic Association is a non-profit organization with a mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports, especially running. The B.A.A.’s Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon, and the organization manages other local events and supports comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round running programs. Since 1986, the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon has been John Hancock Financial. The Boston Marathon is part of the World Marathon Majors, along with the international marathons in Tokyo, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. The 120th Boston Marathon will be held on Monday, April 18, 2016.

For additional information on the Boston Marathon, the B.A.A. and its races and programs, please visit http://www.baa.org.

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David Brown
MABVI
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Joe Benincasa
Romanelli Communications
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