Blind woman to run marathon in aid of guide dog charity

Visually impaired Lisa Smith, who works at Ormiston Venture Academy, is running to raise money for G

Visually impaired Lisa Smith, who works at Ormiston Venture Academy, is running to raise money for Guide Dogs. - Credit: Archant

Kayaking on the open sea, climbing 40 foot trees, shooting down zip wires and running in all weathers are often considered extreme sports, but not for Gorleston resident Lisa Smith.

Despite being registered blind ten years ago due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP), Ormiston Venture Academy school mentor and mother of one Lisa, 40, loves the adrenaline buzz of challenging sports.

As well as kayaking in the North Sea off Gorleston and cycling tandem with her husband, Lisa is only the second visually impaired person to do the 80ft platform fan descender jump at Extreeme Adventure near Fakenham – and says that despite it being scary, she loved it.

Most recently she has taken up road running and has just been accepted to run in next year's London Marathon to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. As part of the training she plans to to run the Great Yarmouth half marathon in August that starts and finishes at Ormiston Venture Academy where she works.

'I am not afraid to do all I want to do,' said Lisa.


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'My latest challenge is running and I love it. It is the sense and feeling of being what I call normal and free.'

When she started running Lisa did laps of Gorleston promenade with her son or husband cycling beside her but now does at least three outdoor runs a week and trains on the treadmill at Ormiston Venture's gym.

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'I am currently doing a really comfortable eight miles and hope to be up to the full 13 miles by mid-June ready for the half marathon in August,' said Lisa, who discovered she had RP following a standard eye test when she was 21.

The condition causes permanent changes to vision and within 15 months of the eye test she was registered partially sighted and was registered blind at 30.

Despite the condition being hereditary no one in her family has the disease.

She wants to raise money for Guide Dogs as she said having a guide dog helped her gain the confidence to go outside.

She said: 'I have my second guide dog, Unity, who is three. I got her last year after my first dog Vanity, who spends her days at Venture with the children, retired in 2012. I was without a guide dog for a year whilst waiting.

'This is usual but not having a dog meant I became a bit of a recluse again. I know how important the role of a guide dog is and want to raise funds to help ensure those who need one can have one.'

The full lifetime cost of a guide dog from birth to retirement is £48,500.

Lisa's first group run was the Somerleyton 5k in April that she completed in 30 minutes and raised just under £300. As part of her training she participates in the Great Yarmouth Park Run 5k with her sister-in-law, Nicole Cross, as her guide and has already broken the 30 minute barrier that so

many find so hard to do. Her current personal best for a 5k is 27m30seconds.

As well as raising money to fund more guide dogs she is also looking for experienced guides to help her with her training and someone to run the London Marathon with her.

To help, contact her via Ormiston Venture Academy on 01493 662966.

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