Almost everyone would be thrilled with a marathon PB of 2:31:31. Running a marathon at that pace means running each km of the 42.2km race in about 3 minutes and 35 seconds, which is fast. Really fast.
2:31:31 is Henry Wanyoike’s incredible marathon PB. The thing that makes this time more incredible is that Henry is blind.
The World’s Fastest Blind Marathoner
Henry suffered a stroke at the age of 21 and woke up unable to see. He had been identified as a promising talent at a young age and frequently dreamed of representing Kenya.
“I went to bed a normal person, the following day I found myself in darkness,” Henry said.
He lost 95% of his vision. But he didn’t let this unfortunate turn crush his dream of representing his country on the world stage.
Henry started jogging again with the assistance of sighted runners. Falling was part of the course, but it didn’t take him long to find his stride.
At the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, Henry won gold in the 5,000m. He went on to break the marathon world record for blind athletes at the London Marathon and again at the Hamburg Marathon…just one week later.
Henry will return to Australia – the place where he won his first Olympic Gold medal – this year to take part in the half marathon at the Chevron City to Surf for Activ.
Henry’s Inspiring Vision
Henry has used his running success to highlight the plight of the disabled. He created the Henry Wanyoike Foundation in 2005 and is a long time friend of Initiate Australia.
Initiate Australia is an international organisation with a vision to see all people free from poverty. Their multidimensional approach focuses on the underlying causes of poverty. It is designed to break the cycle of dependence through advocacy, education and local investment.
Much of their work focuses on inspiring people to devise long term and systemic changes. They believe that these changes can truly make a difference in impoverished areas – both in Australia and internationally.
Bringing Henry to Australia is one way in which they inspire change; flagship programs, such as the Global Education Program that will take 50 Australian students to Kenya in July 2020, are another. You can read more about the program, including how to get involved, on Initiate’s website.
Making Time for Perth’s Students
Henry will be attending a few Perth schools during his Australian tour to inspire and educate students. The lucky students will listen to Henry’s story, before running a mile in Henry’s shoes – by running blindfolded.
We spoke with Jodie from St George’s Anglican Grammar School, one of the schools that Henry will visit, about what the visit means to the school.
“I was amazed by Henry’s story. I tried running with my eyes closed around the South Perth foreshore and just can’t fathom how Henry does it! To run marathons with his time of 2.31 and have a foundation to assist education in Kenya…I mean what an inspiration. We are super excited to get the opportunity for Henry to speak to our School and feel privileged he is making the time to visit.”
Inspiring Participation in the City to Surf
Jodie has organised a school team for this year’s Chevron City to Surf for Activ. She has been a passionate participant in the event for many years, but decided that the CTS is the perfect platform for students and the school community to give back.
“On our emblem that we wear on all our uniforms it reads, “Wisdom, Grace and Service”. Service is a very important part of our School and the CTS was just another way to give to Activ whilst enjoying the event.”
The St George’s Team has been training every Thursday at 4pm. Parents, staff and students from all age groups have been brought together by this training, as they complete their training runs on the bridges around the river.
The ripple effect of Henry’s participation in the Chevron City to Surf for Activ is apparent. Inspiring individuals inspire others to reach for incredible things.
If you’d like to join Henry for the half marathon (or any other distance), sign up for the Chevron City to Surf for Activ. You never know who you’ll inspire by joining us at the start line.
And, if you’d like to hear Henry’s powerful story in person, you can attend An Evening with Henry Wanyoike hosted by Initiate Australia.