Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Visually impaired man has Everest marathon in sight

An Irish man, who lost his sight nine years ago, is aiming to become the first visually impaired person to complete the highest marathon at the Everest base camp at an altitude of 5,000 metres.Thirty-one-year-old Mark Pollock, who hails from Dublin, will try his luck in the Everest region on May 29 when the anniversary of the first human ascent to the Mount Everest is celebrated.

Mark will be relying on his tracking sticks connected to compatriot John O'Regan and his guidelines to complete the marathon that starts from Everest base camp at an altitude of 5,150 meters, according to officials.John, who also hails from Dublin, is trained in arctic survival techniques and has trained Mark since 2003 when Mark undertook six marathons a week in the Gobi Desert.

"We have come here to finish the race," says Mark with a determination when asked about the possibility of finishing the race for a man who has not gone above 3,500 meters.Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Mark could not see with his right eye initially but in April 1998, he completely lost sight when his left retina became detached. Before losing sight altogether, Mark was a rower and within six months of the incident returned to sports.

"When I lost my eyesight, I didn't think I would be able to do anything. I feared I would not be able to even get out of my house," he recalls upon arrival at the Kathmandu airport yesterday.Mark also completed the North Pole marathon in 2004 and is in Nepal to complete the second part of his twin challenge of completing the lowest marathon on Earth as well as the highest.


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