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Simon Wheatcroft speaker

Simon Wheatcroft

Doncaster, UK

Blind ultramarathon runner

Expert on using technology as an enabler

Inspirational speaker on overcoming adversity

Simon Wheatcroft lost his sight at seventeen and began a journey of adapting technology to achieve the impossible. Through the aid of a smartphone and the feeling underfoot, he learnt to run solo outdoors and ran his first race just seven months later – a 100 mile ultramarathon.

Born with a genetic degenerative eye condition – Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) – Simon knew he had to adapt his day-to-day life. He refused to use any mobility aid, instead learning to walk with feel, sound and the little vision he had left. A pivotal moment in Simon’s life began he tried to climb a mountain at Yosemite National Park, where he had the intention of proposing to his girlfriend at the top. After getting lost and realising it was too dangerous to continue, they decided to turn back, leaving him with an unwavering sense of frustration.

Dwelling on these recent difficulties at home, Simon decided to go for a run. Starting small, running between goal posts at a local football field, he gradually picked up confidence and stamina and was soon able to run along roads, using the RunKeeper app and markers underfoot to help navigate.

Having now competed in several ultra-marathons around the UK, Simon went on to run the New York marathon. However, as if 26 miles wasn’t challenge enough, he started it at the head offices of RunKeeper in Boston, turning the run into a 250 mile gruelling journey. In the coming months he hopes to conquer a solo 100 mile Sahara desert crossing.

With even greater runs like these on the horizon, and now also a member of the Google Glass Explorer programme, he hopes to expand his limits and once again see how far he can go.

Our Comment

"Refusing to quit, Simon continues to adapt technologies from Voice Search to Twitter to Google Glass, enabling him to do more and go further. He tells his inspirational story of determination, endurance and using new technologies to pass on his mantra: "never look back, never give up.""

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