When Thomas Panek ran across the finish line at the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon, he made history, but it wasn’t for being the fastest runner. He was the first blind runner to finish the race led by guide dogs rather than other people as guides.
Panek got some help from a team of Labrador retrievers - Waffle, Westley, and Gus - who all took turns running with him. Each dog ran between three and five miles of the 13.1-mile course and Panek finished in just over two hours and 20 minutes.
The runner is also the president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a non-profit that provides trained dogs to blind and visually impaired people and after he lost his sight 25 years ago, Panek admits he was “too scared to run.” So he started the Running Guides program to train dogs to run long distances with runners who can’t see to keep them safe while they enjoy the sport they love