LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Thousands laced up their shoes for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on the Las Vegas Strip on Nov. 10 and 11.
Among those runners is a group of blind athletes who are overcoming obstacles and inspiring others.
“Terri is running the full marathon, 26.2 miles, and she has five guides,” John Sterling said.
Sterling is one of her guides. An avid runner himself, he founded Achilles Las Vegas, a local group for disabled runners. That’s how he and Terri met a year ago.
“Before then, I really had to run cautiously not comfortably,” Terri Rupp said.
“Blind people can run just as well as anybody else,” Sterling said. “They just need a friend to run with them. That’s what we do.”
Rather than sight, Terri relies on her other senses and John to guide her path.
The first time they met, they ran about two miles.
“Never in a million years would I ever have thought to be an athlete,” Rupp said.
But she told John her goal was to run a marathon. So the two started training together. They ran their first race on New Year’s Eve.
“The whole idea that these athletes allow us to be part of their journey, as runners, and to run that first race, it was amazing,” Sterling said.
But they admitted running together doesn’t come without some bumps in the road too.
“My guides would say, ‘I see the finish line,’ and I'd say, ‘Well that really doesn't mean anything to me!’”
“There have been times that we've been guiding runners, they take a tree branch to the noggin,” Sterling said. “We're running just like we're with our friends. It's easy to forget that the person you’re running with can't see where they’re going.”
So in the marathon, Terri has a team by her side, setting the pace for her success.
“It’s nice to have people both in front of you,” Sterling said. “They can kick out water bottles, make sure there are no rocks or sticks. They can also let other runners know that we're coming past them.”
A marathon is a grueling test of strength and endurance for any athlete. But this team is setting their sights high and they hope to inspire anyone else facing limitations to reach their milestones.
“My message is simple: just do it,” Rupp said.
“It’s more than the physical act of running,” Sterling said. “It's about people raising their expectations. Raise their expectations of themselves and what they can do.”
If you’d like to get involved in Achilles Las Vegas, you can visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/achillesLasVegas/