A Race Guided by Dogs

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A Race Guided by Dogs

Thomas Panek in the home stretch with his personal guide dog, Gus

Thomas Panek in the home stretch with his personal guide dog, Gus

Credit to BBC News

Thomas Panek in the home stretch with his personal guide dog, Gus

Credit to BBC News

Credit to BBC News

Thomas Panek in the home stretch with his personal guide dog, Gus

Avery Pollock, Staff Reporter

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On March 15, history was made in the New York City Half Marathon by blind runner Thomas Panek, 48, who completed the race led only by guide dogs. An article by Time Magazine explains just how Panek accomplished this incredible feat of bravery and courage: “He was guided for the 13.1 mile race by a team of three dogs, a black Labrador named Westley, a yellow Labrador named Waffle and his own personal guide dog, a 7-year-old yellow Labrador named Gus.” The article then goes on to explain that Panek, hesitant to continue his running career after losing his sight in his early twenties, learned to continue his passion with the help of human guides tethered to him.

Panek is not just a runner, he is also the president and chief executive of Guiding Eyes of The Blind, a non profit organization that matches guide dogs to people with vision loss, according to Time Magazine. “Five years ago, Panek was paired with Gus, and in 2015, he developed the “Running Guides” program, which trains dogs to guide blind runners at a running pace,” Time Magazine states when explaining how Panek was introduced to his own guide dog.

After Panek finished the race with a time of 2:20:52, according to Time Magazine, many people began praising Panek for this act of bravery. Junior Sakaiya Yeargin even had appraisal towards Panek, and had her own words to say on the matter: “It’s important to never let your disabilities stop you. Keep pursuing what you love no matter the challenge.” Panek’s incredible act of bravery set an important precedent for future marathons, it shows that these physical, enduring, and seemingly impossible challenges can be completed by anybody with enough will to do so.