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Blind runner includes Mid-Missouri in solo run from L.A. to Boston

Blind runner includes Mid-Missouri in solo run from L.A. to Boston

May 1st, 2016 in News

Jason Romero runs along U.S. 54 in Jefferson City as he makes his ultra-marathon trip Saturday from Los Angeles to Boston. Romero, who is expected to trek through Callaway County today, reportedly will become the first blind person to run across the U.S. when he finishes the marathon.

Photo by Shelby Kardell

Jason Romero, of Denver, is running to provide some education — to help people understand “blind people are capable of anything, if just given the chance.”

And his “classroom” came to Missouri last week — and through Mid-Missouri this weekend.

After running Saturday through the Lake of the Ozarks, Eldon, Jefferson City, Holts Summit and New Bloomfield, Romero, 46, planned to go back to the shoulders of U.S. 54 today, heading through Fulton, Kingdom City, Auxvasse, Mexico and Bowling Green on his way to Illinois.

Physical stamina and weather are potential obstacles each day, he said.

An email last week from his support team predicted Romero would reach Jefferson City about mid-day Thursday, but noted the “date is approximate and based on average pace” — and the predicted date was two days before he actually reached Missouri’s capital.

Part of the delay involved “support vehicle issues,” Courtney E. Patterson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), said in an email Friday. The delays prevented Romero from doing interviews this weekend.

Still, Romero’s averaged 49.11 miles each day, through Friday night.

While that may seem impossible — or at least improbable — to the average person, there’s not much that’s average about Romero.

At age 14, Romero was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that gradually decreases peripheral and central sight, visual acuity and the ability to perceive light.

His biography says a retinal specialist told Romero to “forget about his dreams of becoming a doctor or lawyer.”

He ignored “the doctor’s dismal prediction” and was an honor student who became an attorney.

Romero also was a business executive at GE and Western Union. Also, he’s been the CEO of a nonprofit school for children with autism.

However, that doctor wasn’t totally wrong — by age 43 (just three years ago), Romero had lost 85 percent of his sight.

His biography said he “found himself hopeless and depressed” — until he contacted the Blind Athletes association. Since then, he renewed his love for running in a big way.

Romero currently holds world running records in 50-kilometer, 50-mile, 100-mile, 24-hour, 48-hour and 72-hour race distances and times.

He is a three-time IRONMAN triathlete and the 2014 USABA Marathon Champion.

Romero represented Team U.S.A. with a fourth place finish at the International Paralympic Committee’s World Marathon Championships in 2015.

Also, he was recently featured in a documentary, “Running Vision” (www.runningvisionmovie), which chronicles his degenerative eye condition and his completion of a 51-hour, 183-mile run across Puerto Rico.

Romero left Los Angeles’ Santa Monica Pier on March 25, with the goal of reaching Boston’s Faneuil Hall in just a couple of months.

He calls the trek “Vision Run USA,” and if he completes the 3,300-mile, 14-state trip from L.A. to Boston, Romero will become the first blind person to run across the United States.

“I was given the gift of being able to run, and I want to use that gift to make this earth a better place,” Romero said in a news release. “Running has helped me in times of joy and struggle, and now, I want to use it to help others.”

Also, he has noted on his Facebook page that it’s “only possible with BLIND FAITH.”